Cycling can be Spiritual

Cycling is a Spiritual experience for me. Not in the generic term of spiritual, that is so often times abused in our culture today. I am talking about how this is my time with God, not some ‘Koo-koo-ka-choo, I am the walrus’ thing where I am trying to transcend into a higher plane. If that is your thing then have fun with it.

For me, it is my time to clear my head of the garbage and focus on what God is doing around me and in my life. Just the fact that He has given me the strength to make the bike move is part of the experience. I put on some praise music and just go. Sometimes it is a quick ride, other times it is more of a challenge. Today I challenged myself.

I am located in the desert where it is relatively flat. However, there is one road headed out of town that is, from my house anyway, the most grueling incline on the routes I choose to ride. As I was riding it today, I experienced a Spiritual lesson from God. Not a new lesson, but one that I needed reminding of and now I share it with you.

On this route, I have about two miles of flat to warm up and then the grade begins. Once the grade kicks in, there is really not any recovery point until the top of the grade, four to five miles away, a stretch that generally cuts my average speed in half. If you are going this route, you are committed to it. Well, I guess you could turn around and choose another route, but where is the building up going to happen if turning around is an option. You just have to gear down and keep going.

Once at the top of the grade there is still no turning back, if you are committed to the journey. The rest of the route is a two-lane road with no shortcuts or turnoffs. You are committed to go the distance to the first road, a twenty-mile loop back to my starting point, or the second road, a twenty-six mile loop. I chose the twenty-mile loop today.

As I was trudging up the grade, God began to impress on me that this ride is like my Spiritual journey with Him. It is not going to be easy. There are parts of it that just slow me down. Battles and struggles that cut my forward progress in half, much like the grade slows my average speed. Nevertheless, I keep going! Spiritually, this is when I grow my faith in my Lord. I need to rely on Him to keep me moving forward and not turning around.

Sure, when I get to the top of the grade, there is a downhill section, but it is not an opportunity to just coast through, I still have to pedal because there is usually some form of wind pushing against me. This is where the Spiritual growth happens in our lives, after the hard work, in the consistency of moving along the route God has mapped out.

Then even when things are going smooth and you are feeling good with yourself, some form of discouragement can creep in. For my riding, and me this happens when an ‘old guy’ passes me. I am talking guys fifteen to twenty years older than me (I am fifty). However, I quickly realize that these guys have been doing this a lot longer than I have. They have been on the road more than I have. So I choose to watch them and try to learn something in their cadence and style. Just as we should with those who have been walking a Spiritual life longer than we have.

There are times when I tell myself, “If only I had an actual road bike instead of my Franken-Bike!” Side note – the bike I ride is one I built out of three or four other bikes. It works! One day I will graduate to an actual road bike and probably still complain when the old-guys pass me. One day I will be one of those old guys passing others! For now, my Franken-Bike and I will persevere.

That is what our Spiritual journey with God is about – persevering through the route. Not stopping; not being discouraged. Moving forward under the power He gives you at the time. Not looking for a short cut or thinking about turning around. Growing stronger and more consistent with each rotation of the sprocket or step.

Be encouraged today in your own Spiritual journey. No matter what you are facing, you are getting stronger in Him. Let God be your strength today and every day.

Oh, and if you can do it without wearing socks, go for it!

Thanks for stopping by. Blessings to you.

Sea of Galilee Sunrise

Travels…from the daily prompt…enjoy!

Sea of Galilee Sunrise

Travel…
Any place in the world…

To see this again and repeatedly!

The Sea of Galilee at Sunrise!

It has been several years since being in Israel, but I am blessed to have seen many sunrises there,

this being one of my favorites.

The untouched beauty of that horizon brings peace to my being every time I look at it!

I recall just standing in awe on this day…

it literally took my breath away!

“ONLY” what a powerful word!

Psalm 23:6  “Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.” (HCSB)

“Only”…

Somehow that simple word is so powerful in this verse. It means nothing else but “goodness and faithful love will pursue me”. ONLY those wonderful things will come after me to overtake me; ONLY those will work to make my life better; ONLY those will come after me for the rest of my life!

WOW! I’m not quite sure I can wrap my brain around that. Especially in this journey, as I see myself pretty jacked up, and technically speaking, I am. I am working through this journey the best I can with the help that is available. The help God has led me to (still waters and green pastures from Vv 2).

A friend of mine in my monthly men’s group had some great insight when I shared that I was struggling with writing down my feelings of things past. He simply said, “Maybe God has already healed you of those things, so why try to dig them up?”

God does meet me right where I am; He loves me just as I am; but loves me more than to leave me where I am. Thus the journey continues.

I heard this verse this morning – Philippians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,”

It was explained that only two things can ruin our focus and the gift of today; the regrets of yesterday, and the worries of tomorrow…both things that we have no control over.

Here’s to today!

Thanks for checking in to One Shepherd’s Stance for today!

Need renewing? I’m not talking face-lift here!

More musing on Psalm 23

Psalm 23:3  “He renews my life;  He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.”

What is it to be renewed? And when it is your life…this is huge!

For me to be renewed its kinda like a remodel on a house. The base is still there, but there is a bunch of stuff that needs to be torn out and changed.  Some things can stay, but for the most part its gonna take more than just a coat or two of paint. And in my case, through this journey of discovery and depression…some of it is painful.

If I don’t take the right steps, then I can go tumbling off course in a big mess. That’s the second part of the verse above…

” He leads me along the right paths“. Some versions say “paths of righteousness”. Does this mean that I will be floating along some yellow brick road with no obstacles? Not a chance!

Remember, this psalm was written by a shepherd who wrote about what he knew. If you live in cattle country that has hills, then you’ve seen paths of righteousness, you probably just didn’t know it. While standing on that hill in Israel watching that shepherd and being taught about this psalm, this is what we saw…

He Leads me on the right paths!

He Leads me on the right paths!

See those faint lines on the hill, and there are some in the foreground also. Those are right paths, narrow trails along the side of hill and mountains, one false step and you’re on loose soil. But He leads, so I just have to follow! (And yes, those are camels you see!)

And its “for His name’s sake”, which means He is doing the leading for my good and He gets the glory for it.

Oh that I can follow well during this journey!

That’s this shepherd’s stance for today, thanks for checking in!

 

How green do we need it?

My continued musings on Psalm 23 and its correlation to my journey…

Psalm 23:2 “He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.”

Most people read the above verse and think lush green pastures and a wonderfully serene, meandering stream. Much like the photo below…

Image

If only life was like this all the time!

But it is not always that way. Remember that moment on the bus I wrote about where we had 30 seconds to get off the bus? We were coming out the Salt Sea basin, one of the lowest points on earth,  its a desert wasteland. It has huge wadi’s that can be flooded in a matter of moments if there is rain in the higher elevations. Water does not meander here, grass is not lush here…

The shepherd on the hill ever watching his flock.

The shepherd on the hill ever watching his flock.

I may not always understand where God is leading me, and it may not look like what I need is there when we get there, but then again I’m not in control and really don’t know what I need. I do know what I want; to be through this rough patch of my journey. But just like the shepherd knowing where to lead his flock to get just the right sustenance along the journey, God knows what I need right when I need it…

the sheep get what they need, when they need it.

the sheep get what they need, when they need it.

Some day I’ll even get to hang out at those still waters all the time, not just the occasional moments like now. Now it mostly feels like a rushing river, but God is still in control of my journey through this, I’m just along for the ride!

Even in the white water, God is in control!

Even in the white water, God is in control!

That’s this shepherd’s stance for today!