Monday, September 05, 2016

Flat tires

So, I was inspired back in May to do a 160 mile bike ride across Massachusetts, to raise funds for HIV care and prevention in Liberia—It’s coming up soon, September 8th to 11th!  I’ve been doing a lot of cycling to train and get ready. One day in early August, I was doing a 30 mile ride, and just a few miles into it I had that unmistakable experience… I hear a noise, a little “thunk” as I run over something. And then I notice that there’s a little more resistance to forward progress. I start to feel the road a little more. At first I look down, and everything looks OK, and I think it’s just my imagination. But then the bike starts to slow down, and I’m really feeling the road, and I look again…. yep, my back tire is flat. Suddenly my progress has halted, and I have to stop and fix my tire. No problem, I have a spare tube and a little toolkit. I stop, find a safe place by the road to get the tire off the rim and pull out the tube. I get the tube changed and pump it up, pop it back on the bike and get on my way again. My hands are a little greasy now, but I’m thinking it’s not so bad… just puts me about 15 minutes behind what I was hoping for, but I have the time. So I’m continuing on, having a good ride, getting a little past the half-way point, and “pop” I hear the sound again, this time from the front tire. Now this is worse luck than usual! I look through the stuff in my bag, and realize I don’t have everything I need to fix another flat. I call Deb to come and pick me up.

If this was a one-time occurrence, that would be one thing. But over the last month, I’ve had 7 flat tires! Some in front, some in back, different places around the rim, so it’s not that there’s something stuck in my tire. I’ve ridden well into the thousands of miles over the last 6 years, and I’ve probably had a flat tire about once a year. Could God be sending me a message? 

I must admit, at first I thought it was because I’d had a couple early mornings where I had gotten up and gotten straight on the bike without having my usual time of Bible reading and prayer. I took it as God telling me: “Put me first”. So I made sure from then on to first have my time with Jesus before taking off on a morning ride. But that was about 4 flats ago….

As I’ve been reflecting on this (I’ve had lots of time to reflect… each time I find myself by the side of the road, changing another tube!), I think God has put this little inconvenience in my life to help me understand a few things. He’s saying, “Rick, if you have something worthwhile you are working on, that you feel called to do, burdened to do, convinced from the core of your being that it’s the right thing to do, are you going to let a few flat tires discourage you? Nope, you’re going to press on. Does another obstacle, another disappointment, another delay mean that I have turned my back, that I don’t want you to persevere?  Nope. I’m telling you that I want you to dig deeper.”

But most of all, I feel like God is letting me know that the highest priority in life is not reaching a destination or accomplishing a great achievement. It’s walking with Him. It’s allowing each disappointment, each delay, each difficulty to draw me closer to Him.

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