I am a bit bike obsessed.
All winter long I've been thinking about bicycling.
A couple months back I bought a new bike that has the curled handle bars. When I ride it, I'm bent so far over that with each pedal, my leg shoves up against my ribs. I've wondered if its bike seat was designed by the same engineers that were used for the Spanish Inquisition.
I still have my old bike. I got on it yesterday. I could hardly believe how comfortable it was. But it is not as fast or efficient as my new bike.
It's not like I need an efficient bike for I think the reason I ride my bike is for the exercise. But when I picked the bike I was going to pedal to church on this morning, I couldn't get myself to choose the old bike.
(A large dog chased me on the trail. The owner of the dog pleaded with him to come back, but this bent over object was too tantalizing. With the adrenaline boost the dog gave me, I was zipping along at almost 30 miles an hour while the dog kept his nose (and teeth) inches from my hand for over a mile.)
As I mentioned, with my new bike, everything hurts. When I pay attention, I can feel pain in my legs from every push down on the pedal. I dread each hill for I know my lungs will be demanding more oxygen then I can put into them.
I don't have a thing for pain. When I was a teenager and most of my male peers were demonstrating to each other how much pain they could handle, I stayed out of their way.
But I wonder if bicycling did not include pain if I would be so drawn to it, as I have no interest in riding a motorized bike.
I do know that I can't bike unless I have some place to go.
Roxanne needed something from the store in Biwabik yesterday. It's only four miles down the road. It would only take her a few minutes. I begged her, “Let me pick it up on my bike
“It's a lot of stuff,” she told me.
“I've got a big back-pack,” I told her.
When she opened up the back pack, she saw I had forgotten an item. I was going to tell her I'd go back, I didn't mind at all. But I knew she had already shown me enough kindness in letting me pedal in the first place.
One day Roxanne was in our living room talking to one of her friends about who was doing what and when and why. I could have just gone to the bedroom and read, but I didn't want to be antisocial so I said I had to go and ride my bike. People can accept that. I'm bike obsessed. But as I had no place to go, I could hardly bear it. My brain kept asking me if I was having fun yet and I knew I wasn't because all I felt was the pain from biking.
Like biking, life involves a lot of pain. Life has plenty of pleasures too, of course, but pain is always there, and more pain is always just around the corner.
I connected with an old college friend on facebook. We both shared a bit of where life had taken us over the past 40 years. He summed up the information I had given him and wrote, “You've had good life.” Which is true. But every day, every month, every year, every decade, some really difficult things have happened to me. As Job's buddy Eliphaz told him, “A man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward.”
So what's the deal?
I think life, like biking, has to be about the destination. Our life is a journey, and it's a journey to some place.
When I see an adult slowly and cheefully riding his bicycle, I am so disdainful. “Do they think they are kids? What are they accomplishing? And why do they have to be in my way?”
Unless I'm riding with someone, I always ride hard. Which is the reason I experience continual pain while riding. I'm going some place. I need to get there. Which, curiously, lessens the pain because I'm not thinking about the pain but about the destination.
I think our Lord has saturated our lives with pain because He wants us to understand every day that we are on journey that has a destination. At any given moment, if our brain asks us if we are having fun yet, most of us can't say 'yes,' nor should we say 'yes.' Our Lord needs us to understand there is more to life than mere mortality. He emphasizes that with a big exclamation point at the end of our lives. Suffering intensifies with age. The bones ache, the heart breaks, the soul falters and fails. But our Lord has a destination for us and it's a really good destination.
At the end of my bicycle journeys; after work, after church, after going to the store, I arrive at the place where there is someone I love.
As a Believer, my present has pain. The pain keeps me focused on my future. Each year as I get older, it more becomes my dominant reality. That's because it's a really good future, for I'll be with the One who loves me and desires me even more than my wife, and my kids, and my grandkids.
I do wonder though, will there be bicycles in heaven?
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Therefore there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on the Day. And not only for me but also to all who have loved His appearing. II Tim 4:7 & 8