Whether or not you ride a bicycle, if you live in Iowa, you have likely experienced RAGBRAI at some point. When 10-15,000 bikes roll through a town, or along the countryside, it’s hard not to notice the largest bike tour in the world. It’s not a race, though some cyclists take off at the crack of dawn and finish the 50-70 mile ride before many have started. When you get this many riders participating in the same event, you get a mix of reasons people ride. Some do it, just to prove that they can complete the physical challenge of a 7 day bike ride, some do it to eat, some do it to drink, some do it to spend time with or away from friends and family, and some do it for other reasons. But the short term goals are usually the same, get from this town to that town each day. I grew up in Iowa, but each time I ride through a small town, even one that I have been in 100 times before, you see it in a new way. Another motivation for me is the social aspect of a short conversation with another rider, or a local resident or food vendor along the way. It is amazing how much you can share of find out about someone in a few minutes, especially if you may never likely see them again. What would you ask someone if you only had a couple minutes with them?
The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
The first day of the first year I did the week-long ride (2004), there were a couple of accidents that happened in the same county where I was born. One was a participant in the group I was riding with who suffered a severe head injury, while another unrelated rider, with a name similar to mine, was killed. It was a bit of a wake-up call to many of us and made you think – ‘that could easily have happened to me.’ So this week long bike ride started to show many metaphors for life, and death. Even just trying to get up a long, steep hill, makes you realize the limits of what you can do, and realize there is not always shame in getting off to push your bike, when you have to. There are times on the ride where you need to accept help from others if you are broke down in the middle of nowhere. Do you know your limits well?
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Not everyone is a biker, but there are all kinds of people who ride bikes, with all kinds of abilities. I grew up on the farm learning to ride a bike down the lane, and eventually all around the farm and countryside. I was mountain biking before I knew what that was. So, the idea of riding 10, 50 or 100 miles was a little out there when the longest ride I did as a kid was probably 2-4 miles at one time. Each year on one day of Ragbrai, they offer an extra loop to get your daily total over 100 miles. The first year I did this, I was a little skeptical of my abilities, as 70 miles could be a rough day. But I had been riding with a German fellow for a while and we both pushed through it, somewhat to my surprise, but the company and encouragement probably made it easier. What challenges in life have seemed impossible for you, with some that you may have accomplished, and some that may still seem out of reach?
If God puts an idea in your mind, or you feel He is asking you to do something that you can’t see a direct path on how to get there, what do you do? You can hesitate and wait till the opportunity becomes more clear, you can ask others for advice and/or prayer for helping you understand, or take a step of blind faith even though you don’t know where your foot will land. None of these is right or wrong for everyone, as we all will make mistakes along the way, but there is something to be learned from each encounter and each trial. It is our own motivation to do things within our comfort zone, but God often challenges us to extend way beyond this area of comfort to things that seem difficult or impossible. It is in doing this that our faith grows, regardless of the result. May you continue to be challenged and blessed as you put your trust in the Lord more and more each day, in the ride of your life.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Yours in Christ,