Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Earn Your Downhill - IT TAKES TIME

Click the picture to watch a 1 min. mountain bike video

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
- 2 Peter 3:9

“How long before I try it? Will I always set the attempt aside in lieu of my fears?” These were questions I asked myself before the first time I peddled to the top of Winter Park Mountain. The unknowns and uncertainty of my success often paralyzed me from considering it. If my fellow bikers hadn’t believed I could do it, I wouldn’t have tried.

Faith is funny that same way. I think a common concern arises, “Why should I trust God if I don’t know if He will show up?” For me and many like me, the testimony of a friend eggs me on to take a chance.

Even before a shoe is clipped to the peddle, a decision has to be made. “Will I leave my old misguided belief behind and press on toward the promise of something good?” This process can take years. For me it was nearly 5 years to the time I actually started “peddling.” Trusting God requires an intentional pursuit of His goodness (a complete conviction of who He is) – just keep peddling.

For many, once on the path, it’s too easy to give up and return to old unproductive behaviors distant and disengaged from God. We want obvious and immediate results from God. And, when they do not come as we want them, when we want them, we give up.

In my journey, I’ve come to understand it’s absolutely essential to have a caring friend to encourage me. Someone I can dialogue with and wrestle with my doubts and fears. Without it, I often don’t understand or recognize my humble faith filled attempt at trusting God means more to Him than my actual success (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus said,

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
– Matthew 17:20

There is no shame downshifting in to “granny gear” – seriously. In spite of the stigma, the easier peddle stroke provides me the opportunity to regain assurance in God’s goodness and press-on not in some heroic way but in simple ways.

Do these simple peddle strokes seem like something you could do?[1]

·   I start by recognizing He is God and I am not.
·   I move toward worshipping Him because He is worthy of my worship.
·   I surrender my agenda to His divine nature and eternal power.
·   I trust Him to work out all things for good according to His perfect will because He loves. 
·   I believe with assurance He will show up – not in my way, or my timing, but in the way God knows is best.   

Consider the following examples from the Bible. Ask yourself if any of these faith struggles look familiar to you?

·   Israelites in the desert. They wanted to return to captivity in Egypt because the certainty of their previous life outweighed the unknown of trusting God by faith (Numbers 14:2-4).
o       Do you find you would rather wallow in your own crisis than face an unknown future, trusting God by faith (Proverbs 26:11)?

Be encouraged: If [you] obey and serve [God], [you] will spend the rest of [your] days in prosperity and [your] years in contentment (Job 36:11).

·   12 spies in Canaan. Unbelief in God’s power to overcome seemingly impossible circumstances caused many Israelites to miss out on God’s blessing (Number 13:1-13).
o       Is fear or pride keeping you from trusting God (Proverbs )?

Be encouraged: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus ).  

·   Jonah runs to Tarshish. An unwillingness to obey God’s directive caused Jonah to flee. He believed God was asking too much of him (Jonah 1:3).
o       Do you feel like obedience to God’s Word is too hard? Do you regularly run away only to find out it’s worse to be in disobedience?

Be encouraged: Jesus said … “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our home with Him (John ).

·   Elijah got discouraged and depressed. Elijah’s faith and focus got shattered despite the overwhelming evidence of God’s power so clearly manifested. (1 Kings 19:4-14)[2]
o       Do you get too focused on the results of your efforts for God and forget to recognize it is Him manifesting His power through you?

Be encouraged: The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those that are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

·   Rachel clings to false gods. When Rachel was unable to get pregnant, she turned to worship her father’s idols (Genesis 31).
o       Do you cling to idols of humanism: nature, celebrity, power, beauty, or materialism especially when you think God is slow to answer your prayers?

Be encouraged: For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans ).

We do not get to ride the chairlift to receive God’s blessings. He is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness - even though He desires to bless us (1 Peter ). I can attest, peddling toward the various summits in life with God bring for me and you too an eternal glory not from enormous acts of faith but from the tiniest amount of faith grown over a long period of time. Jesus said,

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
- Matthew 13:31-32

We don’t have to be super hero mountain bikers to come to maturity; rather, one sold out and committed to piecing together a series of tiny peddle strokes of faith, things like trusting in His character, obeying His Word, praying for His guidance and protection, over a long period of time – just keep peddling.

Now that I have seen the glory that comes from hard work, tasted the sweet blessings obedience produces, smelled the fragrance of His beauty only overcoming fear and adversity provides, touched His promises, and heard God rejoicing over me with singing, I revel in knowing Christ and Him crucified. I pray you do too.

[1] Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray … Matthew 6:9-13


Anonymous said...

This post cracks me up … I appreciate the physics lesson