bold venture is not a high-flown phase, not an
exclamatory outburst, but arduous work. A bold
venture, no matter how rash, is not a boisterous
proclamation but a quiet dedication that receives
nothing in advance but stakes everything.
What sort of people pay money to sit on a bicycle seat on a journey of two to three thousand kilometres? We could not be classified by age. The youngest was 18, a student who had just completed high school. The oldest a retired teacher of 68. In fact the largest group was those over 60 who in their retirement had the time to give to a long cycle tour. We had two Ford employees, an electrician from Melbourne and a development engineer from Germany. Several worked with computers.
Not all were cycle fanatics. One had read a book in February about a women cycling across Africa for AIDS relief, was so inspired she bought a bike, began to train, and six months later had crossed 3000 km of her country. Two of the men had known each other since they were pre-schoolers playing in the same street. They were making their way across Canada in stages, and were identifying which part they would cycle next year. Some had light weight expensive bikes, others rode much more modest cycles.
The one thing we had in common was the desire and willingness to face and overcome the challenge. Few of us had done anything like this before, and we all grappled with the nagging doubt. Were we up to it? Do we have what it takes to get to the end?
There is no question that the younger riders generally found the ride easier than the older. They were stronger and recovered from exertion more quickly and on occasion completed the days ride in half the time of the slower riders. But those who plugged away, struggled up hills, battled into the wind, and did so for maybe 2 to 3 hours longer each day, were an inspiration. A demonstration of a never give up attitude. I can recall thinking, “If you can live like that, there is no need to fear growing older”.
In fact if you can live like that, then many fears and obstacles can be faced and overcome. The essential quality was a willingness to have a go. I don’t know if I will have an opportunity to undertake another cycle tour. I do know, opportunities for adventure. Dreams and possibilities may once again plant themselves within me. The Spirit of God might nudge me, or …. I hope I will be just as willing to prepare for and face the challenge.
Now what’s your dream?
What is growing within your soul?
It was not until March of this year at Otago-Southland School of theology that I had ridden a bike with cleats and ‘clipless’ pedals. Shortly after that I bought some of my own and can hardly believe I used to ride without them.
I took my bike to church to illustrate what John’s gospel calls ‘abiding in Christ’. I clipped the shoe on to the pedal and demonstrated how it was attached. I explained that the attachment made them more efficient, and prevented accidents from your feet falling off the pedals.
I talked about how Jesus wanted to convey the idea that being ‘connected, being in relationship with him, would be life giving.
This is not automatic however. I told how I had fallen off twice learning to use my new pedals. Somehow not getting my foot out in time when I stopped, or getting caught leaning the wrong way. The first time I grabbed hold of a road sign, the second .. well, the ground stops you from going any further.
It takes time, and practice, and skill to rely on Christ too. We can ‘fall off’, maybe even suffering some hurt to ourselves or others in the process, but our God is one who picks us up, and loves us still.
If you have a cyclist in your Church ask them to talk about their experiences. Another of mine I shared was the day one pedal broke off, and I cycled 25 km with one pedal. Slow and awkward. What in our discipleship makes us slow and awkward.
Ask your local cycle shop if you can borrow a bike with clipless pedals and some shoes with cleats if you can’t find one elsewhere.
For a few years now I have received occasional e-mails from an organisation called Ministry Health. Some of their articles I have found helpful, others have made me think through my own position. That’s the real value of the stuff we don’t agree with. You can find them at : http://ministryhealth.net/
In a recent e-mail they offered this website address. http://www.bullyonline.org I have had a brief look, and there is a huge amount of material on this United Kingdom based site. There is a link to resources in Australia, but not for New Zealand. It is worth a look, and keeping track of it in your bookmarks.
Days of Wesley is a daily piece from Wesley’s writings. See http://3arrows.net/windex.html
The following piece paints a picture of one who like the rest of us struggles with life and faith.
Winter Solstice of the Soul
Throughout Wesley’s life, he would go through periods when
he questioned his faith. Once he said he did not have the fruits of the Spirit,
therefore he was not a Christian. Perhaps, from his childhood, John Wesley had
not been allowed to experience the joys of life. Bound to hard work and devoted
to his duty, Wesley often vowed not to laugh, and certainly would not allow
himself to “fritter away time”.
The following letter was written to Charles Wesley in June 1766. Parts of it are written in shorthand, perhaps to conceal his agony from unwanted readers.
In one of my last [letters], I was saying I do not feel the wrath of God abiding on me, nor can I believe it does. And yet, (this is the mystery), I do not love God. I never did. Therefore I never believed, in the Christian sense of the word. Therefore I am only an honest heathen, a proselyte of the Temple, one of the God-fearers. And yet, to be so employed of God! And so hedged in that I can neither get forward nor backward! Surely there never was such an instance before from the beginning of the world! If ever I had that faith, it would not be so strange. But I never had any other evidence of the eternal or invisible world than I have now; and that is none at all, unless such as faintly shines from reason’s glimmering ray. I have no direct witness (I do not say, that I am a child of God, but) of anything invisible or eternal.
Heitzenrater comments: “This is an unusual barring of his soul to his brother. The public viewed him variously as a rampant enthusiast, an autocratic leader, a spiritual giant, a confident preacher of sola fide. But here we see him in a moment of honest introspection, despairing of he own faithlessness.”
Richard Heitzenrater, WESLEY AND THE PEOPLE CALLED METHODISTS, p. 224, © 1995.
A woman was getting ready for bed, and complaining that her face was lined, her chin was sagging, her hips had expanded, her hair was grey. She pleaded with her husband “Isn’t there something that you could say that would cheer me up”.
He thought for a long while, before replying. “there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight”
Well that’s my lot till next week
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