Pedaling Down the Path
Around and around and around the skinny wheels on my bike spun as I rhythmically pushed against the pedals. The tree lined bike path was identical to days before, my water bottle was in arm’s reach like always and the shoes on my feet were familiar. However, for some reason this cycling experience was panning out to be quite different from days prior.
Normally, I can ride eight miles at a quickened pace without ever having to take a rest. Invigorated by the effort I am applying, the calories I’m burning and sweat pouring from my pores, I can press in and reach my destination. Not this time! By mile four, my resolve was already wearing thin and I was entertaining taking a break. Rolling into mile six, I felt another level of exhaustion and wondered if I needed to turn around.
As I continued to strive for my goal, physical symptoms of fatigue flared. The thick muscle that runs vertically on the tops of my thighs was tingling with tightness. My shoulders felt like lead blocks causing me to lean forward and rely on the handlebars to support the weight of my torso. My upper arms were stiff and my elbows were pointing outward as I strained to spin my wheels. As burdensome as my body was, so were the thoughts of weariness racing through my brain.
“I don’t know if I can do this today,” I thought. “What the heck is going on? Why is this so hard?” I asked myself. At this point, it was either walk myself and my bike back six or seven miles or find a way to go on. Desperate to work off the ice cream from the night before, I yearned to do the distance.
With no cheering squad nearby, I looked inward for a way to keep riding. “Elizabeth, you are just being a wimp. So what, if you are tired,” I pushed myself to continue pedaling. “Elizabeth, just keep going. It’s OK if you are worthless the rest of the day,” I worked to excuse myself from being productive. “Elizabeth, just ignore the heaviness you are feeling. You can figure out what is wrong when you get home,” I tried to push aside what was ailing me.
After my silent self-help session, I finally reached the half way mark. This was my routine rest stop. And, boy did I stop! Certainly, the heat of the day increased the difficulty of the ride. However, I was certain something else was going on.
In order to give my legs a rest, I slid off the tiny triangular seat and tipped my chin towards my toes. Quickly, I grabbed the edge of my t-shirt and wiped away the sheet of sweat floating on my forehead before it streamed into my eyes. Pausing for a rest, I fussed, “UUggghhhh, now, I need to turn around and do it again!”
Determined, but not delighted, I pushed my buttocks back in the saddle and returned to a racing position. “Hmm, that felt a little bouncy!” I thought. Ready to dig in, I gripped the curved metal bars stretched out before me and peered down at the pavement. “Hmmm, my wheels don’t look exactly right!” I noticed. It was then, in this crouched position with my body weight crushing the circular rubber tubes that I discovered my problem. It had little to do with my personal state of fitness. Instead, it had everything to do with my equipment!
Simply put, my tires weren’t properly inflated. Somehow the air was leaking out causing the added struggle during my workout session. “Dang! That’s it! My tires are going flat!” I confirmed to myself. There was relief, knowing the reason for the extra exertion needed had nothing to do with me. However, I still dreaded the return ride. Enduring another eight miles on deflated tires didn’t sound like any fun.
There was no use in stalling. So, I flexed the little muscle stored in my upper arms and went for it. Mile nine and ten weren’t easy. Mile eleven, twelve and thirteen proved to be increasingly difficult. During mile fourteen my body was in as bad a shape as before. To carry on, I needed a new strategy. So, I stirred up mental toughness and pulled my muscles taught to endure to the end. I held my breath and squinted the corners of my eyes to tap into the energy that was left. I could see the break in the trees that indicated the opening into my subdivision, but I still didn’t think I was going to make it!
And, that is when the Holy Spirit awakened and spoke to the essence of my struggle. When I was feeling tired, fatigued and wanting to give up, He had something to share,
“Elizabeth, this is how people feel when they try to do life without me. They are tired, burdened, weary and ready to through in the towel. They press through time and endure the difficulty of days on their own!”
Coming into the home stretch, the Holy Spirit was quick to make His point:
“You need to know I never intended for any of you to live this way, relying on your own strength, your own knowledge, your own will power to walk through life. I know it is too difficult to do on your own! Surely, you will wear out!” I sensed the Spirit stressing to my burnt out body.
“From now on when you get tired, turn to me!” I was urged. “Allow me to pump up your Spirit! Read My Word for strength and receive My power from the scriptures!
By the time I rounded my street corner, I was worn out, yet renewed. Physically exhausted, but spiritually strengthened. The Holy Spirit had shown me He is the One to shore up our souls. Therefore, naturally making the journey of living more doable, more manageable, more enjoyable!
As I hung my bike on the wall hook, I heard one last piece of wise council, “And Elizabeth, from now on never leave home without first checking your tires!!
Who would have thought, I could learn such a lesson while sweating so much!
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16 (NIV)