By Lisa Huddleston

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.” (Hebrews 12:2, MSG)

Last summer I foolishly let my husband know that I would like to complete the Bike Ride Across Wilson County this summer.  It was a whole year away.  It seemed safe to mention.  Who knew it would arrive so quickly?

So, with only a couple months remaining in which to train, Chuck and I headed out Saturday morning to do what we call the “Ride for Tots.”  Sounds noble, doesn’t it?  Like a benefit ride for children in need?  Nope.  Just our name for the ride that takes us down Highway 70 to Highway 109 to the Sonic near I-40 and back.  Yes.  Tater tots.

It really is a great route for training.  It has wide, safe shoulders and long, slow climbing hills that force endurance.  Its distance is 16 miles—around half the length of the BRAWC—and its midway point includes tots.  Perfect.

Sadly we hadn’t taken this route since last summer so I was huffing and puffing at some points.  Especially when we arrived at “Shut Up Hill,” so named because the first time we rode it Chuck tried to encourage and distract me from the pain by chatting incessantly until I yelled, “Shut up!”

Anyway, we had already had one interesting incident on 70 before reaching the Hill.  A brand new, Ford Edge had pulled over in front of us in the bike lane and stopped.  We approached carefully and then pedaled by it on the left, because there wasn’t room for us to pass on the right.  Seconds after passing the car, we heard a very loud crash.  Apparently taking a test drive, the driver had decided to make a U-turn to head back to the dealership.  He had carefully waited until we passed (thank goodness) then immediately drove straight into a large “Bubba-sized” pickup.  Wow!  Chuck turned to look then turned back and kept pedaling with a shrug as I exclaimed, “Oh my goodness!”  Nothing slows that man down!

As we reached the foot of “Shut Up Hill” I was thinking of that shocking situation.  Wondering why that driver hadn’t looked beyond the two bike riders to the oncoming traffic and so on.  Then the pain in my lungs erased my concern for anyone but myself.  I no longer looked at Chuck’s back or the top of the hill.  I glued my eyes to the road right in front of my tire and pushed.  Right, left, right left.  And I chanted as I pedaled, “A long obedience in the same direction.  A long obedience in the same direction.”  Occasionally I looked to the top to judge my progress, but mainly I kept my eyes focused on the here and now until I finally began the descent on the other side.  The breeze welcomed and my aching legs enjoyed the rest as I glided down with the Sonic sign in my sights.  Tots!

Immediately I began to ponder my situation and to notice the universal truths it contained.  Life is sort of like “Shut Up Hill.”  Really!  It can be breathtakingly hard, and there are days when I feel as though I’ll never make it until evening let alone to the finish line of life.  Other times are more like the downhill ride.  Everything is right, the breeze blows through my hair, and my reward is in sight.  Wheeee!

Either way, this ride and that car accident we nearly witnessed combined to reveal an important truth.  In every situation I must keep my eyes on Jesus.  Sometimes I need to focus on Him in the here and now—the near sight.  And at other times I need to have far-sighted vision.  But always always my sights need to be set on Him.

Now that unlucky guy who was taking a test drive in that brand new Edge had 20/20 near vision—and I am glad he did or Chuck and I could have been road kill.  But his far vision was lacking.

Others have great far vision.  They think of heaven all the time, but can’t see the beggar at their door.  You know—they’re so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.

I am glad to know and to have it made known to me again that Jesus is not just in the hereafter but He is here in the now!  He dragged and pushed my out-of-shape self up “Shut Up Hill” just as He has carried me through so many other trials.  And He is my reward when my race is done.  What a day of rejoicing that will be!

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