Jenna, a friend of our family, stopped by for an early morning bike ride. I accepted the challenge.
Jenna is 19.
I am 36.
Jenna's bike is new and light and aerodynamic.
My bike is heavy and old and wrecked.
(these are my excuses, if you hadn't already picked up on that)
Down and around the state park we rode, and always she was in front of me. I was constantly standing up on my pedals just to stay up with her. It seemed she was making no effort at all, and I was giving it my full attention to just catch up.
We'd start back for the home, and she'd casually ask, "Wanna go down around town?" or "Should we keep going?" to which I would muster enough breath in my lungs to say, "Sure!" as enthusiastically as possible.
My heart was about to explode.
Was she trying to brake me?! I'd sooner die of a heart attack than be broken! Arrrrgghhh! I will not yield! (from 10 feet behind)
Hey! We'd passed the same road 3 different times, from 3 different directions.
While I'm gathering my strength, my thoughts become rudimentary, like the GPS in the car....."recalculating.....recalculating.... turn left in......300...meters." Just when my brain is wired on the new route to the finish line, which is home, and whether or not I'm going to make it there, I look up to see Jenna, laaa-dee-daaa, swerving and taking a ride through a parking lot, between some cars, any detour possible. She looked carefree, soaking up the morning sun, enjoying every moment. She wasn't thinking about finishing the job of a workout, she was only thinking about the fresh air and the beauty around her, and the joy of the ride.
Earlier in the morning, Kari and I read a bit from Oswald Chambers, and during the ride I realized God was painting a perfect visual for me as I watched Jenna zig-zagging through a school parking lot:
"We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation...God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God!
He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry.......Over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.....If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you."
It was perfectly coincided with the scripture we read in Matthew. Peter sees Jesus transfigured on the mountain, having a chat with Elijah and Moses, face lit up like the sun in all this amazing glory, and the first thing he wants to do is build 3 shelters and stay right there on that mountain. This is the place to be! We should never leave here!, he thought. And what did Jesus do?
"Get up. Don't be afraid." And down the mountain they went, into the valley, to be molded by God into the final, ultimate vision of dying on a cross to pay for our sins!
Think of it! God brought His boy up on the mountain, to strengthen him and encourage him. So Jesus would have the fortitude to push through what would become His greatest valley.
I complained that my bike had been wrecked, and no longer worked in the higher gears, and since I couldn't get out of the lower levels, I couldn't keep up with Jenna. It was my last believable excuse.
So of course, we switched bikes.
Oh yes! Her bike was more nimble, lighter, faster, easier! Wow! I could fly and zip along..... at exactly the same speed I'd been going before on my old clunker. :)
Jenna still beat me home, even stopped and purposefully put on her brakes for me...to let me catch up.
Once I think I even saw her pretending to pedal, letting her bike slow down so I wouldn't be so humiliated. I told her that was not allowed. Then I gritted my teeth and pushed all the harder....just to stay about 10 feet behind. :)