Warning: Brian gets a little controversial and spiritual in the following blog. Read at your own risk.
I went mountain biking the other day.
Look, I know I live in Kansas City and to my friends who live in Utah, Colorado, or Switzerland I apologize for the misnomer. I understand there are no real mountains in Missouri. It is a truth that pains me everyday of my existence here. Sigh.
The lack of actual mountains aside, I did ride my 2007 Gary Fisher, hard-tail Wahoo Racer (For reals, yo. Before Trek ate that line of Mountain Bikes—Sell outs.) I rode it on an actual trail. This was certainly not my first rodeo. I have ridden in several places (on actual mountains) and this particular trail quite frequently. The odd part here is that it was in January. I think mother nature forgot about winter this year. Oops.
The temperature around 4pm on this day was in the mid 50s. To be honest, I could have used a little warmer air, but it was more than comfortable. The hard thing about trail riding in Missouri is the trails are often overgrown with vegetation, poison ivy, and closed off by millions of crisscrossing spider webs. In mid July, if I had taken this same ride, I would have eaten thirteen spiders and been covered by itching, blistering poison ivy. Yuck! In fact, I believe it was July that I last attempted this trail (Stocksdale park in Liberty). I rode for a total of three minutes. It was awful. Charlotte’s web was on my face and I had poison ivy in my DNA.
However, my most recent expedition was perfect. The lighting, the lack of spiders and itchy plants,the dryness of the dirt, the bareness of the forest (thus increasing the visibility of my surroundings) was all perfect. The ride was smooth like butter. Like Morgan Freeman reading the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus in Mathew chapter one. Perfect.
Then there was asthma. Not so perfect.
Asthma ruins everything. I mean it really was a great little forty five minute ride except for the five year old child sitting on my chest the whole time. I really need to keep up with the running. After a couple weeks of regular exercise, it usually gets better. Last year I was doing that and actually feeling pretty great.
Then there was Thanksgiving and Christmas.Egg Nog much?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is right to blame a holiday season and its accompanying treats and sweets on my lack of discipline. But I also kind of am. I just stopped my routine and got a little lazy with my diet. Now I’m paying for it.
If I believed in New Years resolutions, I would make one. But I don’t.
So this is where I am at: I really want to enjoy those peaceful yet adrenaline pumped rides through deciduous forests. I want to be thrown from my seat over my handlebars and land in a tree or a creek or a puddle of mud. I want to ride to the top of a hill and charge down as fast as I can. But I can’t enjoy those things to their fullest until I invest in my health in a real way. My body will always fight me and prevent me from getting where I want to be if I don’t take care of it.
I ought to do what I need to do, so I can do what I want to do.
As a Christian, I have a real problem seeing bad health as an acceptable thing. If I really believed what I believe, then I would take care of my body as it is not my own. It’s out on loan and I ought to take care of it so I can be here for those I love. So I can continue the ministry given to me and build God’s Kingdom as much as possible (Mathew 28:19-20).
Now, pursuing rock hard abs, chiseled features, and being able to leap over buildings is not where I place my sights and ambitions. Building up my physical body is not the Gospel. It is not my Ultimate Hope. The Gospel is good news about a Person who Redeemed us to the Father. Speaking that Metanarrative into every aspect of my life and trusting in His Transformative Power and Grace to change the whole of humanity is my only ambition. Forever, Amen.
That is my identity: Who I am at the very core of my being. Not a writer. Not a husband. Not a man. Not an actor. I am a Redeemed creature because of what God did for me through Christ’s sacrifice. Nothing I can do can earn any favor with God. That is religion. I am fully accepted. I am adopted. Therefore, Christ ought to be my only vision. My only Hope. For apart from my relationship with Him, I am a walking dead man. Six pack abs or not.
That’s the rub. I can look to building up my body as a source of identity and worth. I can place my faith and hope in longevity and feeling good physically. I can worship a high endorphin flow and an adrenaline rush. But that’s not good enough to save me. That can’t keep me from the Grave. Anything I do to improve this sack of meat covering my bones is merely a temporary patching. It’s like painting a building scheduled to be demolished.
Then again, I should see investing in my health as Obedience. After all, I can serve others better if I am functioning in a healthy way. I might feel better about doing the dishes to serve my wife if I tear it up on the track for a little bit. I just can’t make that my Only Aim. Tricky business, this Christian walk.
Some Christian person once said that human beings are idol factories. I agree with whoever proposed this idea. We were made to worship. We place our Hope in such silly things. Approval. Power. Comfort. Control. Being a Christian doesn’t mean I am free from this. That’s the beauty of the Gospel. Even though I deserve death and constantly seek other gods before Him, I am still dealt with Graciously. It is by His Grace alone that I can even call myself out on my idol-junk. Look to the Cross and repent. Lather, rinse, repeat.
That is the Christian walk--The cyclical dance of repentance. Lather, rinse, repeat, knowing that Jesus has paid it all. Amen.
Dang, son! You just got preached at! When life gets crazy and anxiety fills your heart, where do you turn to medicate? We are made to turn to something. If it’s not God….then it’s probably not real. I have to tell myself that everyday.
I dare you to ask Jesus if He is worthy of your Hope. And I pray you find what you are looking for.
Until next time. I love you all.