March 26, 2014The recent change of season transported me back to a spring day, 2009…
I've spent the day riding my bike from Long Beach, CA to a famous body surfing beach called, "The Wedge" at the end of Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach – there were no waves. I'm really not sure how far I've ridden, but the ride there was very pleasant, it didn't seem very far at all. It's now late in the day, I'm on my way back and it's been brutal. It all started when a storeowner wouldn't let me use the bathroom, and I had words with a clerk who gypped me out of fifty cents – it's a long story.
Then, I learned that my first love, Farrah Fawcett, died. Michael Jackson went the way of all flesh today as well, but his passing doesn't bring the same feelings; I never was a big fan. Sure, it's a bright, sunny late-June day on the California coast, but my return trip is into the teeth of the sundowner winds. It feels like a Category-3 hurricane – it's like riding up hill the whole way.
I'm sure my new glasses are now potted from being sandblasted. I forgot sunscreen, the Chapstick is gone, my cell phone battery is almost dead, and I'm getting more than a little sore "south of the equator" (if you know what I mean). I'm wearing the same shirt I slept in and I skipped the morning shower before I noticed that I was out of deodorant. A pretty girl just rode by me like I was standing still and I couldn't even come close to keeping up with her. My only solace is that she was probably experiencing the astounding, superhuman ability that I've read people are capable of when under great duress – because I ran out of deodorant.
Yup, suffering for Jesus on the California coast…
That day I didn't want to fight the wind anymore. I felt like turning around to just go with the flow. But, where would that have taken me? My stuff, my truck, my bed were in Long Beach. I wanted to just give up, but I had to keep going – I had no choice.
Sometimes life leaves us no choice but to persevere, no matter who you are or where you happen to be. It's as true for the billionaire, as it is for the guy pushing the welded wire mobile home. It's as true for the woman who lives in the palatial home on the strand, as it is for the mother desperately trying to keep her children warm in the breezy shack made out of items found in a vacant lot.
When the going gets tough it is actually an opportunity to make sure our destination is worth the trouble. Farrah and Michael steered toward much that this world offers, but in the end, what did they get to keep? Where did their one and only ride through life end up? God only knows.
Jesus gives simple advice to those headed in the wrong direction, "Repent and believe the good news." Make a decision to steer toward God's goodness and the destination he offers. Repenting is more than feeling sorry, it is changing your mind and way of life. Believing is staking your life on the truth of God's words. To "repent and believe" is to choose a new definition for your life. It is a personal defining moment that creates a new unifying theme for life with a clear destination in mind – the hope of heaven, an objective worthy of your one-and-only life.
Then, with the destination clarified…
When you find yourself having more 'quit' than 'go,' keep pedaling.
When you just want to lie down and cry, keep pedaling.
When everything inside you wants to turn back to the old destination, keep pedaling toward the new.
And, while you do it, grin. If you know you are going the right way, slap a gritty little smile on your mug. Grit your teeth, bite the wind, and grin. Know that perseverance is underrated. Keep going because God's ways are not only right but also good for you. Perseverance can make tough marriages great, difficult startups profitable and friendships better than ever. Perseverance moves faith from mere words and ideas to something that's real. So, grip and grin.
"So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees." (Hebrews 12:12)