My backside was sore. I was feeling (unjustifiably) under appreciated. It was our warmest day yet, and after lunch, I was less than excited about getting back on the bike for the last 20-mile push of the day.
It was day 7 of biking, the 67-mile leg from just East of Cleveland to a campground just inside Pennsylvania, and I needed some extra grace.
“Everyone will need an extra grace day,” says Gary Loomans, Trip Director of the 520-mile bicycle ride from Loveland, OH to Niagara Falls, NY. That’s actually one of the important features of this 8-day bicycle odyssey. It’s intended to stretch teen riders and adult leaders to their limits, and sometimes beyond. Because it is when we need grace – God’s help to push through – and we need encouragement, understanding and sometimes forgiveness from the other participants, that valuable spiritual growth and learning happens.
This is my 8th time doing this trip as an adult rider and devotional leader, and I won’t lie – I love the cycling, the challenge, the food(!), the sun, the scenery, and even sleeping in tents at night. But I especially love seeing what God does in the lives of the teens and even adults on the trip. This year, the theme was “Stay the Course: Life Lessons from a Long Ride,” based on Galatians 6:9. Each morning began with a simple but important cycling lesson, which then became a life lesson with Scripture text in the evening devotions.
And the kids got it. 15 year old Nina, who was adopted from Guatemala, the only girl among the 10 student riders, and who was wrestling with her identity, said, “You taught me how much God pursues me.” Allen, who at 14 was living by himself on the streets because his father wanted nothing to do with him, and his mother was struggling with addiction, said he was very inspired by the devotions. The Prayers of Thanksgiving in evening devotions on Day 5 at Camp Judson and the Affirmations spoken by each of the teens on Day 8 in Niagara Falls reflected how this experience was touching deep in the heart of each person there.
And for me the life lesson from this long ride was (among others): Never underestimate how powerfully God can use traveling together and hanging in there with each other.
That’s a lesson we learn, not just from a long bicycle ride, but from any long journey together.
For the latest pictures from the trip, click HERE to see my album on Facebook.