20101121

Transportation that transforms

Without a car might be a hindrance in many ways, but it is also a blessing in disguise in many ways. Over the years I discover how much riding a bike, or running for that matter, has in common with our Christian walk. In difficult times, in times which I want to stop, it teaches me perseverance and what faithfulness looks like. Exhaustion doesn’t just happen during physical activities. Prophet Elijah asked God to take his life after a day’s journey in the wilderness. At the brink of giving up, I learn that faithfulness is a long obedience in one direction, as Eugene Peterson says in his book. It’s keep-going when every part of you scream stop. People like to say, “If marathon is easy, everyone will be doing it.” Likewise, there’s no turning back in being a Christian and it’s not easy.

I have also learned the importance of one step at a time. When I’m getting tired on hills, I tend to put my head down and pedal. Looking at that formidable hill doesn’t give me energy but instills fear. The best strategy (for me) is to focus only on my next step. As long as I could pedal one more step or put one foot in front of the other, I could keep going. It’s not unlike our journey with God when He only reveals the next step ahead - for good reason. Perhaps if I see where He is bringing me to, I would have retreated and have given up all together. For our sake, He only reveals one step ahead in order that I could focus on what I could manage. Keeping in step with the Spirit is having a big picture in mind while focusing on the things at hand.

During really, really desperate times, my last resort is to pray the breath prayer. Breath prayer is an ancient practice to do exactly what Paul teaches: “Pray without ceasing.” Have you ever wonder how realistic that command is? We know that there is a time to be on our knees, but there is also a time to be on our feet and do something. Thankfully, an ancient monk found that the only way to achieve praying-without-ceasing is to incorporate prayers into what we naturally do all day long - breathing! Breath prayers are short, spanning only the duration of breathing-in and breathing-out. When I feel like there’s not an ounce of energy left in me, all I could do is simply cry, “Jesus, have mercy.” Repeatedly. Common expressions people say after a difficult/challenging run/ride like, “That nearly killed me,” or “I thought I was going to die” might not carry a whole lot of truth; nonetheless, I know Jesus preserves and sustains our lives at all times.

Without a doubt, a vehicle provides comfort and convenience. At some point in time, it becomes a necessity in our society. Or is it? If having money in our pocket and a vehicle at home puts us in the top 5% (or higher) on the Global Rich List, then it is safe to assume 95% of world’s population doesn’t have a vehicle. I always admire my missionary friends who literally give up everything for the Lord. Time and time I receive emails from them about waiting on the Lord to provide - be it a vehicle so they could reach remotes villages, or simply funds to sustain their lives in foreign land. And time and time their praise report on how God has met their needs. They put me in perspective and cause me to question my dedication to live for God. Is my pay check mine? Or the Lord’s? Should I live any differently than my missionary friends? Or the rest of the world?

The Lord provides. Paul boasts in his weakness, “so that the power of Christ may rest upon” him. By the same token, we experience God’s providence even more so in our lacking. God our Father knows what we need (Matthew 6:8).

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 11:9-10

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