Sunday, October 14, 2012
At about mile 64 of yesterday's century, I went over 4000 miles in 2012. (That would be like riding from Minneapolis to London--but drier.) I did not begin the year with a goal of 4000+ miles and it was never a "bucket list" item for me. In many ways, it has just happened. I do not have a lot of long rides (only three of 100 miles or more), but there were not many weeks where I missed more than a day or two. Quite a few rides between 15 and 25 miles and now 4000+. I have worn out a few tires, but have only had 3 flats this whole year--and two of them were yesterday! Most of my rides have been alone, but some of my best times this year have been riding with Carmen, Abby, and my friend Jeff.
Riding has given me time to think and pray. It has allowed me to meet some strangers along the way--from Broadway Cycle shop rides to Brett from Round Rock, Texas whom I talked with yesterday for the first 22 miles or so. It has been a point of personal discipline of getting on the bike whether I feel like it or not. And of the accomplishment of tackling a tough ride into the wind (and uphill both outbound and inbound). I have seen some beautiful countryside, like the top of the hill overlooking Pelican Lake, and some things that I have never seen before, like the cotton fields and big bales outside of Austin yesterday.
This milestone is not a destination, but is a point of note on a continuing journey.
This reminds me a lot of how a journey with God ought to develop. A beginning point and then more or less steady growth over time. This may not be everyone's experience, but I think that it is the most long-lasting. I know that when I have set out to take a "big" growth step it is usually short-lived at best. My grand intentions are smashed on the granite of inconsistency. But when I resolve to simply do the next right thing, or take the next step, and then do it over and over, before long I find that real, sustainable progress is being made.
This may seem ironic to those who know me, but one of the keys for me is to not think too much about the end result, but instead to give greater attention to what I must do today. This has not always been how I have felt, but it seems to be an approach that is working better. Yesterday's ride was very difficult--20 mph wind after mile 22 that was either a headwind or a strong crosswind). Later in the ride, if my only thought would have been the 30 or 40 miles remaining the feeling could have become paralyzing pretty quickly. But by bringing my focus to enduring through the next 5 miles, the overall task felt more doable. At any given point in time I might not have been able to envision slogging through another 30 to 40 miles, but I could see the next 5 miles as being halfway to Jeff and Jeanne's house.
Thinking of praying for God's work in each country of the world may be daunting, but deciding to pray for one country each day is something that I can do. I cannot reasonably sit down and read through the entire Bible in a week or so, but I can decide each day to read a few pages that day. And after taking these steps day by day, little by little I will be able to look back and see progress.
Every ride during the months leading up to yesterday's milestone was not better than the ride before. Each new ride was not a new personal best. But looking back today over 9 1/2 months of concerted activity, I am a much stronger rider than I was in January. May that also become more true about my faith.