One of the things I enjoy about riding my road bike is the satisfaction I get from increasing my speed over previous rides. But focusing on speed can be misleading. One recent ride (re)taught me an important lesson.
I was making great progress on the outbound leg. My average speed was up four mph and my legs felt strong. But on the way back my exhilaration turned to discouragement as the ride got much harder. I struggled with every pedal stroke to keep my speed up. I immediately chalked it up to starting out too fast and using up my energy. An obvious conclusion, right?
Wrong. I’d failed to realize that I’d started with a slight tailwind, which had then picked up over the course of my ride. I now found myself riding into a stiff headwind and couldn’t keep pace. I was demoralized and disappointed in my performance.
A couple of points to draw here. First, there’s no getting around it: Headwinds suck. Life will have both good and bad experiences, and we can’t just hope for tailwinds all the time. We must deal with headwinds when (not if) they occur.
Second, it’s important to keep our focus on the right thing when we’re in a headwind. Monitoring speed kept telling me I was failing. But my heart was actually getting a great workout. A strong heart is the real prize, and the ultimate goal: Only an aerobically-fit heart will position me to ride further and faster. While it’s relatively easy to strengthen legs, hearts only get stronger when tested over longer periods of time and through increasingly difficult challenges.
“There’s no getting around it: Headwinds suck”
Turning this to matters of faith, this is the essence of James’ encouragement:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1.2-4)
Monitoring the condition of our hearts is always more important than monitoring “performance”—especially riding into the headwind of COVID-19. With people dying, families/friends being separated and all the predictions of a new Great Depression, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting our hearts hang on to fear, bitterness, anxiety, anger, judgment, jealousy, etc. It’s easy to doubt God and his purposes.
Those things take our eye off the prize and distract us from the point of faith. Faith isn’t about God giving us a tailwind, it’s about trusting him no matter how strong the headwinds blow. What God’s doing in us is always more important than what he’s doing for us.
My prayer for you today is that you can embrace God’s promise and let perseverance do its work. This headwind is training us.
“What God is doing in us is always more important than what he’s doing for us.”
Let me hear from you: Leave a comment and tell what are you doing to monitor your heart, and the hearts of the people you’re discipling?