I have recently developed a real passion for bicycling. I am by no means a Lance Armstrong follower and I don’t follow the Tour De France, but I love riding. I typically have stayed in the vicinity of North Carolina where my wife April,and I can find new and interesting places to take our bicycles and spend time together. There is something that any good bicycler knows is necessary if you really want to enjoy more distant rides across a larger span of territory and that is you need to condition yourself to ride through quite a bit of pain. The other day I arrived home before my wife April and decided I would take a nine mile trek down some new roads near our house. All was good as I hit Oakwood and went onto Rogers Lake Road. I was having to be extremely careful because the road was only two lanes and cars typically trump bicycles when it comes to getting knocked off the road. As a car was coming up behind me I pulled to the far right side and my tire dropped off the shoulder of the road. It wasn’t necessarily a problem at first but I noticed the shoulder was becoming taller as I continued to roll and my front tire became wedged to the point I couldn’t steer the bicycle. I tried to keep the bike up but to no avail and was thrown sideways onto the road with my bicycle landing on top of me. I immediately felt a great deal of pain in my left leg, arms and hands. I looked down and saw a kneecap covered in a good dose of road rash filled blood. At this point it would be safe to assume that I said “ouch.” I took a moment to thank God that I wasn’t run over by a car, truck or larger sized conveyance. In fact somehow my bike didn’t appear to have a single significant scratch or dent on it.

I was in a fair amount of pain as I stood there on the side of the road and I had a bit of a problem. I was too far from home to simply walk my bicycle, and there was another seven miles left on my journey! Could I honestly quit my mission all because of a little pain I was experiencing or did I need to finish the race? I decided on the side of the road that although I wasn’t too excited to move my injured and bleeding kneecap back and forth for another seven miles, I had to finish my mission. I remounted my bicycle and began to pedal although I will not confess to any potential girly-man sounds I may have made over the next mile or so. As I continued to pedal and focus on the road and enjoy the scenery surrounding me I began to periodically forget that I had fallen earlier in the journey. In fact there were a few things I was now doing on my bicycle to avoid what happened earlier. In other words I had learned from my past mistake. I was now focused so much on my mission that the pain became secondary to me and I was literally enjoying the ride!

What pushed me to continue when I began to feel the pain and burn was knowing that it wouldn't last forever and that rest and refreshment was coming at the finish! As I pulled into the driveway of our home on mile nine there was such a feeling of exhilaration of knowing that I finished my mission and didn't quit. Let me be the first to say I didn't break any time trial records on my trip, but it was never about how good I was, but finishing what I started.

Many Christians believe that a life in Christ is a pain-free existence, but this is not the case. Jesus never promised us that we would suffer no pain in this life. In fact Jesus told Peter a time would come in his life when he was older when he would stretch out his arms and be placed somewhere he did not want to go. (we believe he was possibly referring to Peter dying from crucifixion) In fact Peter went onto write that if any man suffers as a Christian let him not be ashamed! (1 Peter 4:16) Peter emphasizes this again in the same letter where he tells believers that there comfort comes from knowing that the suffering will have a duration of time but will not last forever. (1 Peter 5:10) No one likes suffering and pain and as Christians we are not immune from any of these experiences in our Christian walk. Becoming a Christian does not involve the issuance of a halo and a hovercraft! Our lives can be tough and sometimes the pain can even seem unbearable, but there is good news. Our suffering is limited to this life and our comfort and contentment will last forever. In fact Paul tells us that we don't have to grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thes 4:13) Whatever your suffering may stem from there is a comfort and peace you can constantly have that has no expiration. You have a hope that can drive you to finish your mission through any sort of pain and suffering. Paul even said that he learned that whatever situation he was in that he could have contentment in his heart. (Phil 4:11) What state are you in today? Is it a broken marriage, grief over the loss of family, broken relationships? Are you in the "if only" mode of regret or have you made some mistakes in your marriage that you feel will never be reconciled? I believe I could make this list quite long, but for the sake of word count I will let you fill in your blank.
You may be at the painful point of throwing in the towel over your pain thinking you cannot go one step further, but I am encouraging you today that in Christ you can make it!

God is completing a work in you as we speak that will blow your mind. You may already have seen it and know that quitting should not be an option. I exhort (that means encourage) you to press on and find comfort in knowing that the pain won't last forever, but as Peter said, for a little while. Let God finish the wonderful work he has begun in your life. (Phil 1:6) Lastly I ask you to do as Paul instructed us which is to finish the race. We have not been told to win this race just as I mentioned my time was no record to brag about. We are just told to run this race without apology, pain and all! We are to run the race with persistence and patience (Hebrews 12:1). You can do it through Christ who provides the strength! (Phil 4:13)

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