Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to ride a couple days of Ragbrai, so how could I say no? I have truly enjoyed riding bikes since before I was 5 years old. I remember riding around the country as a kid and the first time I rode to a friend’s house 4 miles away, thinking it was quite a feat. Even now the prospect of riding 50-100 miles a day is more challenging than it is exciting, but what if we never tested the limits of what we can do? Ragbrai is more an act of endurance than it is a race, but you may get a boost of energy when you pass others, or see someone fly by you, or see a sign for pie at the next town. Though this is not my first Ragbrai rodeo, for me, whether a day or a whole week, the experience is more about stepping away from the comfort of my normal routine, seeing new parts of this wonderful state, and getting to know some people better. Mission accomplished every time, despite bumps in the road.
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 someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:24-27
When you are on a bike ride, or a car trip, or any type of journey, you have to expect the unexpected. You get flat tires, storms, detours, sickness, injuries, and just about anything else you can imagine. If something unexpected sidelines you for a moment, you adjust, recalculate your route, and push forward. You may get discouraged for a moment when things don’t go your way, but you figure out what is next and keep on going. If you always let little things keep you from any progress or make you turn around, you may end up a cold, timid soul that never ventures out of the safety zone. The same way in life, if you don’t expect a few bumps or potholes along the road, you are only fooling yourself. Comfort is overrated. Have a plan of action for when things go wrong, or know who to turn to for help when you need it. Have you ever felt joy from being able to help someone in distress? Who made you that way?
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them. Ecclesiastes 9:11-12
When we look at our brief little lives, we eventually realize we all have the same finish line…death. But what happens after this race is over? As we run, we can take a look around us and think, ‘Wow! They have it made because (insert lame reason here)’ or we could say the opposite of ourselves or others…’That poor soul’. We only catch glimpses of what others are dealing with, and it is usually more than meets the eye. Who knows everything you have dealt with throughout your life? Oh right, Him, but does He really care? Is there anyone else who knows you better and still wants the best for you, or for you to finish the race with your head up and still looking forward? Spend time with your real life coach and listen to His advice on how to run the race and finish well in this life. Don’t do it for your own glory, but for His, and you will be glad you did.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Running along with you,