As spring arrives, so do many awesome blog posts and pictures; proses of returning blossoms, chirps, single track and adventures planned. All things I happily welcome and rely on to atune me to the new season. However, we fail or choose not to remember the dog-days of summer, those days when the Mercury climbs over 85 and humidity above 65 percent, days in which we longinly look to POW days of carving “S’es” in the white fluffy stuff. How easily we forget.
The point of this is not to be a “downer”, it just that this year, the budding leaves and returning sparrows break my heart a little bit. Recently, a situation in which I was faithless worked out in a such a way that God’s faithfulness was unquestionable, the solution was like the inevitability of Spring; no matter how bad winter was someday blades of grass will again bask in the noon sun and birds will sip nectar from the open flower petals. This begs the question, why do I continues to doubt, the spring days with its scents, the summer days when the earth yields the greatest hero dirt and the fall days with the majesty of the trees fully dressed is on display. I forget the cycle of life and the ruler who orchestrated it all.
So I look forward to the captivating tales of adventures and maladventures, the pictures of carpeted rolling hills, warming streams and melting mountain tops and the prompting of the Holy Spirit gently whispering… This too will pass…
What is Success? Have you ever pondered such a seemingly simple question? Quite capricious is human nature that we set a moving target as our definition of success. We wrestle between having a full life, living our dream, and making a difference beyond ourselves. Lately I have been trying to come up with a definition of
success that works for me. Of course there is a myriad of cookie-cutter answers like spending quality time with family, experiencing life, having a successful professional career and the likes. Like Solomon, given the opportunity, what would you ask God “specifically” when you ask for success in life?
I concluded that; besides desiring to be a great role model for my children and the best possible Godly husband to my wife, I cannot with any specificity articulate what I want in the form of a successful life. This comes from a lack of faith, resulting in vague prayers. God does not answer vague prayers because we can’t tell if they are answered or not, then he doesn’t get any glory. Because some desires (to be a bike shop owner, adventure journalist/photographer, outdoor adventure manager) seem and sound unsustainable and outlandish we have difficulties believing it is achievable and instead ask God for a better job rather than the specific desire he has created in us and is aware we have.
I watched the documentary Living on a dollar a day, it brought about the question: how do you live without guilt when by providence you are born into a family, place, and time where you have options. How to you decide to downsize and live as if you are on burrowed time when the most joy you have comes from activities that are a luxury in many other places? How is it that security brings about less joy than uncertainty? If you have follow this blog, you know I have more questions than answers.
I do have one answer though for all these question: Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the lord with all your heart, lean not on your understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.
That day remains pretty green in my memory, after what I then considered a monstrous ride – 40 miles and maybe 4K in elevation gain The group sat outside a local Pizzeria refreshing and swapping tales, talking to one of the better riders in the group I asked how he does it… how he climbed so well, it amazed me how effortlessly he floats upwards, seemingly escaping the death grip of gravity that perpetually held/holds me captive. Like most cyclist I was ready with numerous excuses and rationales why I probably could and would never be a good climber (I had ACL reconstruction 2 years ago, my bike is too heavy, I need a compact crank, I hate going downhill so I avoid going uphill) he simply said you have to keep resetting your threshold… to climb welI you have to work at it. I implored pray tell more, He said you just started out so you will only get better if you keep riding however, in about a year or two your performance will plateau and it will take a constant dose of venturing into the ream of the uncomfortable to reset that threshold and the cycle begins again.
I have been able to reset my threshold a couple times but I must say venturing into the zone of discomfort is a trip I do not look forward to, it is still something I fight. In my walk with God there have been a few times when I am aware a threshold reset is in order, those times when I do not feel his presence when I pray, when he feels so far away it is to me a 50 mile solo pancake flat ride: no company, no scenery to keep you interested to awe you with the works of God’s hand, no occasional deer or dog chase just hands in the drops, head down, mind blank and wheels eating up miles of tarmac. I absolutely hate that spiritual desert period not only because of the loneliness I feel being away from his presence but also the effort required to reset that threshold. Like cyclist we come up with excuses and reasons to never press in, some like many cyclist we know get bored and drop out (we call those one season wonders).
Today, on our weekly group ride I am sitting on the wheel of the same rider who 3 years ago gave me that wonderful advice and I thought back to all the solo training rides, the intervals, the heaving and puking at the top of climbs, I recall the rescue calls I have had to make to my wife, the cost of a physical reset and I am saddened that I am not motivated to put an equivalent effort into my walk with God. It definitely does not feel good when the work is being done but the result albeit not perfect feels good.
I know I need to press in to be able to get into the holies of holies that place where I can feel God’s presence and hear him speak… I need to reset my spiritual threshold.