Monday, November 25, 2013

Get back on the bike

The course was muddy, full of dips, holes, rocks, and steep ascents that reduced many racers almost to a crawl. Tough conditions?  No, perfect for cyclocross, a sport that could have been invented by Tide detergent.  The muddier the course, the better the race.

Two weeks ago, my husband was right in the thick of it, living out his motto, "Never act your age."

He went down three times, once in a gully where he cracked his helmet, and twice falling as he was going UP a muddy knoll.  Having raced on roads for thirty years, this was his first cyclocross race.   He was discouraged just long enough to realize that everybody falls down, the novices for sure and even the pro's. 

But it is what you do THEN that makes the difference.

The first time he went down, it was in a gravel-strewn gully about a half-mile into the race without spectators around. When he fell, he cracked his helmet. The other cyclists zipped past him, relegating him from middle of the pack to almost dead last.  He scrambled up, pushed his helmet back together, and got back on his bike.

The biggest crowds had gathered on the muddiest hill, watching the cyclists navigate the slippery slope.  Bill made it about halfway up when, along with a few other riders, his wheel slipped in a muddy rut, and down he went.  The crowd did not scorn these fallen riders-- they cheered them on.  "Go, Bill!" I heard several spectators shout out encouragements to him.  And yea, there were hecklers -- there are always hecklers -- but then again, they are not the ones out there racing.  Covered in mud, Bill got back on his bike.

The second time he ascended the hill, he went down again.

The third time, he jumped off his bike and ran, carrying it up the hill, and then hopping back on at the top.

He did not dwell in the mire.  He got back on his bike. Bill learned something from it, how to navigate, how to hang in there.  And he finished the race, muddy and smiling.

Jesus approached a lame man who had been sitting for decades by a healing pool.  Jesus did not commiserate with him, but held out to him extreme compassion, a compassion so deep that He said to the man, "Do you want to be healed?"

And in spite of the man's litany of excuses, 
Jesus said to him,
take up your pallet,
           and walk."
                              John 5.8

We all fall down, sometimes in the deepest mire. Everyone struggles with something, dealing with scars and wounds and imperfections.  But it is what we do then that makes the difference.  Are we willing to let God redeem those things?  Just as He empowered the man who had grown comfortable in his crippling circumstances, Jesus says, "Get up."

Jesus heals and redeems in the most extraordinary ways.

Redeem it, O LORD,
    turn it inside out
            and make it a strength
 to bring glory to You.

We all fall.
We all get muddy.
Let it go
         and get back on your bike.
For in our weakness,
            His strength is revealed.

...though he fall,
        he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD is the stay of his hand.
                                Psalm 37.24

The LORD lifts up the downtrodden...
                               Psalm 147.6

 ...for a righteous man falls seven times,
                  and rises again...
                               Proverbs 24.16

But He said to me,
"My grace is sufficient for you,
for My power is made perfect in weakness."
                                2 Corinthians 12. 9

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