Have you noticed that when you start some new adventure, you tend to give it all you’ve got in a great push for the “finish line” right from the start…until you realize there’s no way you’re going to even get there unless you learn that sometimes you’ve just got to take it slow.
As a child, I used to go on bicycle rides with my step-father and my younger brother. We would head out from our beach-front hometown of Santa Cruz, California, on over to Capitola, where sandy beach met cool, wooded hills. It seemed that everything was flat in our area of Santa Cruz.
The ride from home to Capitola took us through neighborhoods lined with all sorts of houses, from the old adobe-looking thing that we lived in to cute little seaside condos on stilts. It took us past tiny businesses of all sorts–I remember the gym, the surf shop, and several cute, little crafts-people’s shops.
And somewhere along the line–poof!–you were in Capitola. But there in Capitola, were hills.
In my youthly vigor and strength, I would always press up the hills with a few hard rotations of my pedals. No problem! Yet there was always someone, it seemed, who was peddling along, spinning, spinning, spinning their pedals–and virtually going nowhere.
“What a waste of energy!” I would often think. “Why, they could just shift up to a ‘better’ gear, and with a few hard pushes, they would be atop that hill in no time! Oh, well…”
Well, last week I learned the use of those pedal-pedal-pedal gears!
#2 Sometimes you’ve just got to take it slow.
[If you missed the last post, you can see lesson #1 here.]
I’m pretty sure that my bicycle had three speeds all those years ago. Last week, I rode my daughter, Samantha’s, 18-speed mountain bike. When I turned out of our driveway, it did not take me long to see that I would be using some of those lower gears.
I climbed the gradual slope, fully realizing there was a lot of road ahead. I intended to pace myself. Sooner than I had hoped, my knees were giving me a bit of a pain. Yep, I better shift. Actually, I better shift again.
Up and down and down and up the hills. Down and up and up and down the gears. I shifted through about three or four of the rear gears (those are the ones that make the smaller change in the pedaling difficulty, for those of you who may not know), watching my son off in the distance ahead.
(Just so you don’t worry, he did stop for me every so often. I’ll tell you more about that later. 🙂 )
Finally, we made it to town. Jonathon had forewarned me about the increased slope we would encounter on the way home. (So had Samantha. That actually happens to be the main reason she did not think I would make it back in the first place!)
As we neared it, he kept me informed. Then, maybe a third of the way into that last long stretch of uphill, it happened. I shifted into the final low gear–and I was not sure I was going to make it.
Up ahead, Jonathon had stopped for a break. I told myself–and prayed–that I could make it that far.
When I reached Jonathon, he had a beautiful revelation for me: I was not in the lowest gear, after all. You see, I thought I had started out in the lowest front gear, when in fact, I had started out in the highest front gear.
He helped me shift down–and it felt so easy to pedal when I took off again! So there I was, very happy to be the one spinning, spinning, spinning my pedals and virtually going nowhere. Because you see, going virtually nowhere is still moving forward.
That’s where the next lesson comes in.
#3 Don’t stop, or you’ll fall!
Before Jonathon helped me shift down the “big” gears, I was actually going slower at one point, I am sure. I was pressing forward with all the might I could muster–and that happened to not be very much anymore.
You probably know this, but if you are going uphill and you don’t have effort to pedal forward, you cannot go very far. And as I slowed, I knew if I slowed much more, I would fall.
With Jonathon often so far off in the distance ahead, I could have gotten discouraged, but there is something else I have learned…
#4 Let the achievements of others encourage you.
I told Jonathon right off that I thought I would like him up front. That way, I could look ahead and see him conquering this trip and know that I could do it, too.
He did stop for me from time to time, but between those stops he was often quite a distance ahead of me. (One time, he got so far ahead as I concentrated so hard on climbing the last hill into town that he seemed to just disappear!)
Somewhat near the beginning of our trip, we were climbing a fairly steep hill. I was doing my pedal-pedal-pedal thing and Jonathon was whizzing on up the hill. I kept my eye on him. Finally, the road looked as if it would just end. You know what that means: we were nearing the top.
Jonathon suddenly disappeared on the other side of the hill, virtually flying out of sight. He had made it! With that encouragement, I knew that soon enough, I would be doing the same thing. And before I knew it, sure enough, there was one more hill conquered!
In our Christian walk, we must keep pressing forward. While we must pace ourselves and realize it may be a long road ahead of us, we also must realize that this is no time for “lazying” around. If we let down our guard, we leave a wide open door for the enemy–and we will fall!
We also must remember that we are a team. The achievements and gifts of our Christian brethren and sisters can encourage us, if we will let it. So why not let it?
Press on, friends, and Hasten Home!
~ Jonathon was a huge encouragement to me, both by pressing forward and by stopping for me from time to time. How has someone been an encouragement to you? Tell us about it in the comments!