I’m going on a bike ride with my brother and some of his friends in northern Arizona. Actually, “ride” is quite a generous term. I soon find out that could more appropriately be called a bike climb. After several miles, we reach an even steeper portion of the trail, and I decide it’s time for the hiking part of this duathalon. As they push on ahead, I jump off and slowly start the trek up the ridge.
One of the things about bike-hiking mountains is that the top is always elusive. By the time you see it, you round a corner and it magically becomes much, much higher. As I was slowly making my way up the mountain, I decided that, contrary to appearances, the end was not in sight. Much to my surprise, my skepticism was invalid, and I was rewarded with a great downhill segment after a short rest at the top.
In mountain biking, the bad thing about awesome downhill segments is that they lead to horrible ones. Times when a nice winding trail changes to a rocky creek bottom, and your hands ache from the constant pummeling of the handlebars. But you know what, if all uphills were moderate, and downhills silky smooth, it would be called road biking. In the end, all uphills lead to downhills, and all horrid downhills become a badge of honor and a good reason to find another trail.
I’m pounding down a concrete two-lane road in southern Mississippi. I’m with a fellow senior cadet at Camp Shelby – we have some time off from instructing the younger cadets, and decide to go on an afternoon run. Only thing is, afternoons in Hattiesburg, Mississippi typically run high 90’s in both temperature and humidity. As I’m wondering why I signed up for this workout, and why we are pushing such an incredibly fast pace, something I’ve known all along hits me in a profound way. Exercising isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be incredibly hard – if you want to improve yourself and meet the goals you've set. And the feeling of accomplishment is more than enough reward to motivate me to head out the next day.
In these moments, my life suddenly makes sense. I see the purpose for the stress and hardships of my life, and how they've had a major part in building who I am. And regardless of how difficult life can be in the moment, eventually I’ll reach the top, and see the bigger reason for what I’ve been facing.
God gives all of us a few lines in the script of our lives when the words explain everything else. A few scenes where we get a birds-eye view on our lives. I think the Amplied version really brings out the meaning of this passage in Romans 8 – and is a really good place to sum up our thoughts.
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son ...
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."