Bicycle Theology: Odometer Reality

When I bought my bicycle in 2009, someone said to me, "By the time you buy all the things to go with the bicycle, you'll have spent as much as you did on the bike itself." Little did I know that what he said could easily be a prophecy. A helmet, gloves, appropriate clothing, lock, mount for the car, a tire pump, and a side mirror were only a few of the things I found myself needing. Over two years later, I'm still buying these items.

A few months ago, I finally gave in and bought an odometer. It measures my mileage and tells me how quickly I'm riding. The first time I rode with the odometer, I felt a bit like Wonder Woman on the downhill stretches in noticing that my speed reached 25 miles per hour. I couldn't wait to get home to see how far I had traveled on my first "calculated" ride.

The end result was 7.84 miles.

Really? That was all?

I punched the buttons of the odometer, changing settings to see if I'd made a mistake. Surely with such great speed I'd ridden at least ten miles! Surely one hour of pedaling yielded more than single-digit mileage! Was I allowed to round up to eight miles? The odometer brought cycling to a reality for me. I wasn't going as far as I'd thought. I was disappointed.

Then I stopped and realized that I was being far too hard on myself. 7.84 miles was not bad. It was a great workout with many health benefits. I was in the good company of a friend on the ride. There were far more reasons to give thanks than to give gripes. The problem was not in my performance on the bike; the problem was the unnecessary expectation I'd placed on my performance.

We often find ourselves with self-imposed, unreasonable expectations. We have goals set for ourselves, and when we don't reach them, we become discouraged. In Isaiah 40, the Lord speaks through Isaiah to the discouraged, downtrodden Israelites who find themselves in exile who are questioning whether they are worshipping the "real" God. The Lord reminds them that God can do so much more in God's power than they can in their own efforts:

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 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.

Friends, let us shake off our human-made expectations and complaints in order to embrace the joy of each moment that God provides. We need not compete with each other or ourselves, and we should not embark on any journey without God's strength. Let us instead move at the best pace for us, enjoy each moment, and give thanks for how far we've come and are going in life.

grace, peace, love, and all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian