This ride was one of the best experiences of my life. The training was ruthless and time consuming, but worth it. I would spend some week nights attending spin class and every weekend riding around Houston. The majority of my training lacked hills and strong winds, which did not prepare me for what was to come. I was blessed to ride this ride with some of my good friends, Dinah, Lindsey, and Annie (and my new friend Scott-Linds' dad). We all rode the ride at different paces, which meant for a good long while I rode by myself. The Lord spoke volumes to me during this time of solitude. Let me preface the following with...there were tons of hills, 20 to 25 mph head winds and many more miles ahead of me than I had trained for. As I was riding, the Lord gave me strength when I was weak and comforted me when I was lonely. He whispered words of encouragement throughout the entire ride. He reminded me of this particular scripture,"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Through my experience I have come to understand this scripture on a new level. I understand what kind of training is needed for a race like this and the kind of training that is needed for life itself. I heard Him say to me so clearly, "Ride in such a way as to get the prize and even though you have trained there will be obstacles, keep riding." There were so many times where I wanted to just give up, but I kept hearing Him say, "I'm your strength when you are weak."
As I was riding about 7 mph up the steep hills, I couldn't help but think of the hills, sometimes mountains, we face in life. It's stinkin hard! The hills looked so scary, steep, and never-ending. The Lord reminded me that He is near during the scary times in my life. He is my strength and my helper. He will definitely get me to the other side (the down hill slope). Oh, how I prayed for those down hill slopes. I knew if I could just experience a down hill slope it would keep me going and give me enough strength to get through the next hill. I remember the cool fresh breeze blowing gently on my face as I rode 30 mph down the hill. The joy that overcame me was equivalent to how I feel when I experience "great" times in my life. The Lord blesses me with down hill slopes, the times where I feel like things are good between me, God and others. He told me that I need to embrace the good times and be ready for the tough times because they are inevitable. Throughout the entire ride He proved to be present. He also taught me that it's not so much about the destination, but about the journey. So many times I would pray to God asking Him to just get me to the next rest stop. My goal was to ride the entire way without any aid (SAG van). This goal became a little bit blurred as I rode against these obstacles. However, I knew that I could make it with God's strength, so I kept riding. The Lord whispered words of encouragement once again, "guard your heart through your mind." My heart and body felt like giving up because of the gigantic obstacles, but my mind reminded me of God's promises..."I'm your strength when you are weak (Psalm 105:4, Isaiah 40:29, Isaiah 41:10)." I clung to His promises to get me through this tough seemingly endless journey.
Have you ever felt like you were too weak? Or have you ever felt like you just couldn't get yourself out of a pit? What do you do once you know you are weak and in a pit? Do you cling to God's promises when the tough times arise? Do you focus on the destination or the journey? God definitely has a plan for our lives here on earth. Embrace the journey and cling to His promises!
"Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Annie, Dinah, Linds, Scott and me in La Grange
my "little" brother Shawn
(my brother Chris,made our jerseys-Ride Like There is No Tomorrow)
We finished strong!!!