Pedaling Optimism

Last Friday I decided to go for a bike ride around the river loop.  This was a revolutionary decision for me considering:
  • The loop is ten miles long – roughly 10 miles longer than anything I had biked in 5 years.
  • I am grossly out of shape - a situation only exacerbated by the lockdown.
  • I do not own a working bicycle.

Problem number three was quickly remedied by combining the parts of two slightly damaged bikes I own into one probably functional (female style) bike.  The bike was a little undersized.  I was a bit oversized.  But I figured it would probably work.  

Buoyed by naive overconfidence in my abilities, I set out northbound on the East Wenatchee side of the river.  Overconfidence usually sets us up for pain and failure, doesn’t it?

The pedaling was hard but it was something new.  The challenge excited me.  The headwinds did not discourage because this was different.  It provided an opportunity to challenge myself.

The trail is sectioned by what appear to be new mile-markers.  The first three miles were fun.  Yes, I was a bit tired, but it was invigorating.     The approach to the Odabashian Bridge was my first hint of discouragement. The climb, slight by most standards, was an energy zapper for me.  It was compounded by the fact that the sun had climbed over Badger Mountain and was bearing down on me causing me to feel like I was overheating.   A woman on a Schwinn yelled, “Passing on your left”.  She was SIGNIFICANTLY older than me.  My embarrassment quickly transitioned to a hope that she knew CPR.

I made it across the bridge and down pleasant slope to begin the southbound stretch on the Wenatchee side. At the base I decided to dismount.  I was thankful at this point that I had a female style bike that allowed be to swing my leg over the frame at a gentler angle.  My joints weren’t working right.  Something was wrong.

I realized the only solution was to resume pedaling before I became so stiff that the rotation of the pedals became an impossibility.

Several more miles I rode.  The trail lost its interest.  I was no longer having fun.  The adrenaline of the initial challenges had melting into a loathing of the seemingly endless present. I contemplated calling Anita to have her come pick me up – an impulse halted by a desire to maintain some vestige of dignity.

How much longer?

Like most I was caught a bit off guard by a global pandemic.  When it started, I saw it as a unique challenge.  While pained by the toll of physical, emotional, and economic suffering it caused – it seemed like an opportunity for the church to rise to the occasion. It was a time for a pastor to hone and develop new skills.  And to lean into God’s provision.

When civil unrest started in our cities it only caused me to double down on my resolve to serve Jesus in the best ways I could think of, to as many people as possible.

Like many, the last few weeks have brought on a weariness.  You may be feeling it as well.

How much longer?

David knew these rhythms.  Consider the brief, but powerful, Psalm 13:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
 
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
 
But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.


In these verses we see David embraced three things.

LAMENT. REQUEST. PRAISE.

I would challenge you to do these three things daily during these challenging times.

LAMENT:  Four times David asks God, “How Long?”  I do not think God is threatened by our transparency.  How long must we suffer?  How long must we experience sorrow?  What “how long” would you speak to God now?

REQUEST: David says, “Look on me and answer, Lord my God.”  That is a bold statement.  I would challenge you to be specific in your requests during these uncertain times.  What question to you have for the creator?

PRAISE: We do not know what Davidic story inspired Psalm 13.  We don’t even know if David had experienced some sort of resolution when he wrote these words.  But he does seem to come to an understanding of how things will resolve when he says, “But I trust in your unfailing love.” Wherever he is at that moment, he knows God’s love will not abandon him.  And that appears to be enough for him.

As I approached the dog park at the south end of town, I looked across the river and saw something.  The end of my journey.

Something about being able to see the joyful resolution to my ride, even though it was still some distance away, recharged me.  My legs were invigorated.   I began pedaling with renewed strength. I knew I would make it!

And so it is with life.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus

Trials are temporary.

Look up and keep pedaling.

You are loved,
Pastor Mike

3 Comments


Nancy - July 21st, 2020 at 11:58am

Thanks Pastor. I needed this today.

Esther - July 21st, 2020 at 8:40pm

This is so encouraging! I've learned a lots from the message! Thank you for sharing your journey! God bless you always!

Mary Simino - July 23rd, 2020 at 5:06pm

You always leave me smiling 😅