The Race Ahead

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I love cycling.

And I don’t use the word love lightly either. At times I wonder how I’d have gone on if not for cycling. It was my release – huge to me in my high school years, and I still love to get out when I can.

There are tons of things I love about cycling.

Summiting a mountain solo. Alone, but not lonely. Guided by my bike light; a hum in the darkness. Morning fog thickening as I rise higher. Sounds of my raspy breathing. The occasional dog bark or cow’s moo. The chain cranking as it propels the wheels around. Life’s problems fading on each pedal stroke. The sun rising over Adelaide – a whole city wakes from sleep. Wind in face as I’m propelled down the mountain. Sweat in hair, eyes wide open. Feeling of aching, tired legs. I’m stuffed, but I’ve never felt more alive. Back home for coffee before school.

I love it.

And some thought I was a bit mental. The amount of time I put into it each day was somewhat unbelievable to them. But to me, it wasn’t crazy at all.

There was something about cycling that made dedication to it easy.

Getting up at 5:30 every morning – rain, hail or shine. Making training programs. Spending hours on the bike. Rarely eating bad food or having soft drink. Shaving my legs (don’t hold it against me). Following other dedicated cyclists on social media. I would admire the professionals, talk about them, watch their races.

I was committed, but I was loving it. The sacrifices I was making were nothing in comparison to the perceived rewards of joy, temporary release of problems, and the increase in fitness.

So where am I going with this.

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Paul uses the analogy of running a race to explain how the Christian life should look. It goes like this:

‘…let us lay aside every weight, and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race set before us.’ – Hebrews 12:1

And my past dedication to cycling should look like my dedication to Christ.

Just like I would lay aside bad eating and drinking, and the minimal weight that was my leg hair – this passage says we are to lay aside every weight that slows us in our pursuit of God. Anything that gets in the way. What a statement.

I was regularly setting aside time early in the morning, 5:30 – to dedicate myself to cycling before the day. In the same way, there is a need for me to dedicate myself to God and his will before every day. To seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

All this cycling took endurance, perseverance. I wasn’t going to get much better at the sport after a week of cycling. It took a long time. But as I’ve stated, I found huge joy in the dedication to it.

Likewise, growing as a Christian and forming a strong relationship with God is a life-long pursuit. We need endurance. I need endurance – I sure don’t claim to have this covered. But we find immense joy in the reward ahead of us – eternity with Jesus and perfect community with his people.

How much greater is that reward than temporary gains in fitness!

cadel

‘Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross…’ – Hebrews 12:2

As part of my cycling addiction – I would follow professional bike riders and watch some of their races. I particularly admired the likes of Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong and Chris Froome.

Whilst Lance Armstrong might not the best example nowadays, the fact remains. I admired each of these men’s grittiness and strength of character. The way they shone above the rest through sheer determination.

Particularly in Cadel, who had this way of making suffering his friend.

Cadel was characterised by his ability to endure. Pain and suffering written all over his face, yet this uncanny ability to power through it – even in the late stages of a grand tour (see picture above). These men embraced pain, adversity – but found a weird sense of joy and success through it.

In a similar way, Paul says (in Hebrews 12:2, highlighted above) we should look to Jesus as our example in this race of life.

We are encouraged not just because Jesus endured suffering, but that suffering was central to Jesus’ victory.

Cadel pales in comparison to what Jesus went through, and I wouldn’t ever wish to put Jesus on the same level as Cadel. But for the sake of this cycling analogy stuff – understand the context of the comparison I’m making.

Jesus is the picture of suffering if there ever was one.

In a prophecy made 680 odd years before Jesus was born, Jesus was described as becoming The Lord’s suffering servant. A man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief, oppressed and treated harshly (Isaiah 53). The prophecy was spot on.

Jesus, the Son of God was whipped, skin tore off his body. Blood poured freely. Thorns were shoved into his skull. He was tortured, spat on, crucified, killed. Unrecognisable. God turned his face away.

So, all this pain and suffering – how did Jesus endure it all?

Because the joy set before him was so great. His love for us is so much greater than the (literally) excruciating pain he endured. He was making a way for us, his people, to be in full relationship with him.

And we are called to live with the same goal in mind. We cannot fully mature in faith without trials. Therefore, we should be careful not to betray God’s invitation to maturity. But in the same breath, we can find strength in knowing all suffering, all pain on earth, is just temporary in our pursuit of his kingdom.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Jesus

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Sometimes the wind will be at our backs as we gun it downhill. Life is just a cruise along the esplanade at sunset. Everything is going great.

But then we will turn a corner. The wind is suddenly all in our face. Rain is spitting into our eyes. Ahead of us is a big-uphill. The chain comes off, a wheel is punctured. It’s remarkable how often these things seem to happen all at once – in cycling and in life.

What was once an easy cruise has become a battle against the elements. A battle against our will to push through. Others whizz past on the other side of the road as they head downhill, wind at their backs. The other way looks so much easier as we trudge uphill. We begin to envy other’s lives and the lack of suffering they have. Turning around to join them becomes an appealing prospect.

But we do not turn around. We keep moving in the right direction, slow as it is may be. For we know the strong winds and the hill climbs build up perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:4). Keeping our eyes set on the goal ahead of us, looking to he who completely shattered the elements of death itself.

The Everest we face today just an ant mound in comparison to the joy ahead of us.

Eyes set.

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108 thoughts on “The Race Ahead

  1. hannah rodriguez May 31, 2016 / 1:36 pm

    This was a really good post. The analogy was great! ‘Keeping our eyes set on the goal ahead of us, looking to he who completely shattered the elements of death itself.’
    That was an awesome quote. ^
    Will follow this blog for sure 🙂

    hannah @ furiously bookish

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac May 31, 2016 / 10:39 pm

      Thanks Hannah! Appreciate you taking the time to have a look 🙂

      Like

      • hannah rodriguez May 31, 2016 / 11:18 pm

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. bkmoore June 1, 2016 / 2:33 am

    Just on the cusp of loving cycling. I have noticed that I start getting antsy if I’ve gone to long between rides. Great analogy. I am learning so much about my relationship with Christ and there is contentment in the aloneness.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jonathan Camac June 1, 2016 / 4:08 am

      Thanks for the feedback! A summary I’ve always liked is ‘Cycling is my thing, but Jesus is my King’. No activity I do identifies as strongly with me as my belonging in Christ. Thanks for reading, have a good one 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  3. AkoKristiyano June 14, 2016 / 5:16 am

    Hey, great post. I love biking too, though not at the level of sports 🙂

    Glad to have found this blog. And thanks for the Like!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 14, 2016 / 5:21 am

      Yeah it’s pretty great isn’t it. So relaxing to head out on the bike sometimes 🙂 glad you got something out of reading it! No problems

      Like

      • AkoKristiyano June 14, 2016 / 5:29 am

        I love the lessons you shared too. This life is indeed a race, and we all need perseverance and encouragement from time to time.

        Biking for me is also my prayer times. I love to listen to worship songs while I bike, and while I rest on the seashore. It also provides inspiration for writing, so I bring my phone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac June 22, 2016 / 3:18 am

        I resonate heaps with that. Cycling is so good, if not better for my mental than my physical. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

        Like

  4. gmgoetz June 22, 2016 / 2:32 am

    Hey Jonathan, great piece of writing, great analogy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and one of your God given gifts of writing, with us.
    Thank you for the like on my effort also.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 22, 2016 / 3:17 am

      Love the genuine heart that you pour out in your blogs! Appreciate your kind words 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Just Me June 22, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    What a great post! Passing this on to my hubs, who is a triathlete and loves to cycle! Wonderful picture of the Christian life…thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 22, 2016 / 2:36 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon. I’m sure he will resonate with some of my descriptions of cycling at the start of this post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 23, 2016 / 4:52 am

      Thanks for reading bro! Love the lay-out of your website too. Bless you mate 🙂

      Like

  6. pastorjdo3 June 23, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    This is a great piece and perspective. If we put half the dedication and commitment we do into our hobbies and passions, we would have a mighty army of believers!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 24, 2016 / 12:47 am

      thanks mate! so true and well said. Maybe it would wake-up a sleepy church in the western world?

      Like

      • pastorjdo3 June 28, 2016 / 8:01 pm

        Let’s hope so. We have allowed our faith to become commercialized and have drifted somewhat. Keep the faith!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 25, 2016 / 3:59 am

      Thanks Madelynne. Appreciate you taking the time 🙂 Have a good one!

      Like

    • Jonathan Camac June 25, 2016 / 3:58 am

      Cheers mate! Appreciate your feedback. No problems, so good to share our thoughts/blogs around! Have a good one legend.

      Like

  7. sidelites46 June 27, 2016 / 11:13 pm

    I love the part about the “shaving the extra weight of leg hair.” It’s the smallest things that bring us down

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 27, 2016 / 11:18 pm

      So true isn’t it. John Piper said in a sermon once that too often we ask if things we do are a sin, or are bad. He believes we are asking the wrong question – we simply have to consider whether it slows us in our pursuit of God’s kingdom and his righteousness. Thanks for commenting, have a good one 🙂

      Like

  8. baroquemk June 28, 2016 / 4:06 pm

    Enjoyed this post immensely! Your writing has a natural flow of coherence and your message is full of truth. Refreshing post. Thanks for taking the time to write it! –Libby

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac June 28, 2016 / 11:24 pm

      Thanks Libby! Appreciate your feedback and kind words. Thanks for taking the time to read it 🙂

      Like

  9. Winter McKenna July 1, 2016 / 2:16 am

    Ok I love your writing style. You have a wonderful way with words and analogies. God Himself has truly blessed you. Can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 1, 2016 / 3:27 am

      Appreciate it Winter! God has blessed me way beyond what I can put into words. But in no way am I more or less blessed than anyone else. God has issued an invitation for everyone to become citizens to his kingdom. For ALL people to have access to his grace. What an awesome God we serve 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Winter McKenna July 1, 2016 / 1:09 pm

        Amen! That is true. But you have to admit, He does bless some people with different talents than others, and writing is certainly one of yours 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac July 1, 2016 / 2:44 pm

        haha yes I agree, we all have different talents and giftings in our lives. And since he alone places these things in our lives, all glory is to be directed his way. Hopefully our lives reflect these opportunities and gifts he gives us. Thanks for your comments Winter! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. dtoft July 3, 2016 / 7:15 pm

    Awesome. And well-written.

    Like

  11. willturnstone July 7, 2016 / 8:20 am

    I was going to wait till after my 8 mile ride to work yesterday before thanking you for looking into our blog ‘agnellusmirror’. Oh, and how time on the back of the bike becomes no time at all, something near praying, all very profound. But on that ride I met a retired Frenchman, who had cycled from Stockholm to the French port of Dunkirk, then up to Canterbury from Dover and was making for Liverpool, Ireland, down to Cork and back through Brittany. With his family in tow, strung out behind him, wife, son and daughter in law, grand daughter …

    I still enjoyed my riding but can now put it in perspective when people say how brave/fit/admirable I am for doing what has come naturally since I was 8 years old!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 7, 2016 / 3:47 pm

      No problems man! yeah some people go all-out with their sports. Gives huge appreciation for the likes of Tour De France cyclists. They’re freakishly fit. Thanks for stopping by Will!

      Like

      • willturnstone July 7, 2016 / 7:55 pm

        Strangely enough, last summer my daughter and I did manage a stage of the Tour de France, a few years after the race had been there – around the lake of Annecy – and on Bromptons, not lightweight racers. We only realised we’d done it a fortnight later, but I designed a very yellow teeshirt for her to celebrate. Neither of us freakishy fit, but able to enjoy doing it and having done it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac July 8, 2016 / 1:15 am

        Good on you man 🙂 I’d love to go there someday!

        Like

  12. julian July 9, 2016 / 5:57 am

    The way that you are able to put the reader in an imaginary scenario by articulated the setting with great precision is fascinating and captivating. Love the way you ended it with the uphill battle that we all face and the inevitable desire to turn around and follow the crowd in the easier direction, ending with the choice to remain focused on the goal set at the top of the mountain. excellent brother. following God is far from easy but when we do the pay off is far from anything this world can provide!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 10, 2016 / 6:47 am

      What a summary! Thanks for reading and commenting mate, appreciate it. Keep pushing up-hill towards the goal! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. wmcohio July 9, 2016 / 6:18 pm

    Appreciate you visiting my blog!

    I am a cyclist as well. I like how you connected it to the gospel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 10, 2016 / 6:49 am

      No problems man 🙂 Paul knew what was up when he used the running analogy in Hebrews. Thanks mate!

      Like

  14. heyjude6119 July 10, 2016 / 1:49 pm

    This was well written, inspiring, and very descriptive. I found myself right there with you pedaling up the hill, stopping for the flat with the wind and rain in my face watching the others cruise down the other side with envy. Where I live, it’s pretty flat but the wind. Oh the wind. I’ve tried checking the direction of the wind and riding into it when I start, only to have it switch directions so I’m riding against it on my return as well. This also reminds me of our trials when we change directions thinking life will be easier, but the trials/wind is still there.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 11, 2016 / 1:28 am

      Thanks for the feedback! The wind is good for not much, unless you’re a wind-surfer or have a wind farm, haha. No problems Jude 🙂

      Like

    • Jonathan Camac July 17, 2016 / 11:47 pm

      For sure! Appreciate the support 🙂 Thanks for reading Christine. God bless.

      Like

  15. lettingthesunshinecomethrough July 19, 2016 / 2:02 am

    I love the way you write! It is a style that I can relate to the most! Thanks for posting this piece. I really needed it as I preparing to endure another year of college. There is an end goal to all of this! To God be the glory!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 19, 2016 / 3:13 am

      Glad you found it easy and encouraging to read! Appreciate you taking the time to read this. What a privilege that God would work through us – so standard, so flawed. Have a good one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Red Lotus Girl July 19, 2016 / 2:17 am

    And we are called to live with the same goal in mind. We cannot fully mature in faith without trials. Therefore, we should be careful not to betray God’s invitation to maturity. But in the same breath, we can find strength in knowing all suffering, all pain on earth, is just temporary in our pursuit of his kingdom.

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Jesus

    Wow!!!! Great piece! “be careful not to betray God’s invitation to maturity.”…well said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 19, 2016 / 3:15 am

      Thanks Red Lotus! I heard that line about being careful not to betray God’s invitation to maturity in a sermon a while ago. Or at least it was something similar. Just stuck with me. What a challenge it is! Thanks for reading, appreciate your time 🙂

      Like

  17. Christine Goodnough July 19, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Christine's Collection and commented:
    Here’s an inspiring article to start the day — a good comparison between physical and spiritual endeavor written by Australian biking enthusiast Jonathan Camac.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Paul Phillips July 19, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    Jonathan, as a lover of cycling (although not as much compared to you it would seem!) your analogy makes a lot of sense to me. An analogy which works well with the theology you present – a conclusive analogy about envying others going downhill instead of against the elements is a massive challenge that I am very much inspired to face. Thank you for writing this brilliant piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. andih94 July 21, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    This is a great analogy. I really like the ‘invitation to maturity’ way of seeing our trials. That’s a great antidote to self-pity. Thanks for liking my post too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 21, 2016 / 1:33 pm

      Definitely helps the mindset during tough times. Story of Job is a classic example of not betraying God’s invitation to maturity. No problems 🙂 keep sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac July 22, 2016 / 12:36 am

      Appreciate this mate! Trust you found it an interesting read. Thanks for your time 🙂

      Like

  20. thiaBasilia July 25, 2016 / 6:11 am

    Truly, Jonathan, in the economy of our lives He does not waste a second. Every second, good or bad? One more stepping stone for us to climb higher underneath His everlasting arms. 🙂

    Like

  21. The True Light! August 2, 2016 / 6:19 pm

    Good morning my friend! Just saying “hi” and wishing you a creative and happy day!

    Steve

    Like

      • The True Light! August 3, 2016 / 4:21 pm

        Thanks, Jonathan. Thanks for the encouragement…Have a great day yourself my friend!

        Steve

        Liked by 1 person

  22. N. Bird August 23, 2016 / 12:27 am

    I have never been good on a bicycle, I am a little clumsy, but I am a great fan of a good analogy and this post was one of the best I have ever read. I found encouragement and motivation in this post to press on at a time when I have been tempted to look back to an easier day.
    thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 23, 2016 / 1:07 am

      Appreciate your kind words brother 🙂 keep pressing on towards that end goal my friend. Bless you mate.

      Like

  23. rundanceclimb October 6, 2016 / 12:28 am

    Because the joy set before him was so great…..

    Mountains, racing, walking…my time for prayer as well. Thank you for your thoughts and words. Looking forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac October 6, 2016 / 12:36 am

      Same with me man. I find cycling/running/walking is as good for my mind as it is for my body. Appreciate your time mate. Hope it is an epic day for you! 🙂

      Like

  24. bethanyk November 14, 2016 / 4:28 am

    I loved to run. Before my muscle disease I would run. I would release everything that was pent up inside me and just run. Then I wasn’t able to anymore. I had no idea how to get out what was pent up. So I learned! I learned that what our body cannot do our mind and heart can. I loved other’s until my own suffering didn’t seem as big.
    I very much enjoyed your post and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac November 14, 2016 / 4:40 am

      wow! sounds like you’ve really had to battle and adapt throughout your life. I personally don’t know what I would do without running or cycling. So cool to hear you found a new way of coping that benefited others too 🙂 thanks for reading!

      Like

      • bethanyk November 14, 2016 / 4:42 am

        I used to say the same exact thing, that I didn’t know what I would do if I couldn’t do squats, or bike or, do pull ups and just let it all go. I visualize still doing those things. And I pray one day I may do them again! Thank you for validating my struggle. It has been hard and long. But I have many blessings that have kept me going.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac November 14, 2016 / 4:47 am

        too right, we are blessed in so many ways. Mustn’t feel like it at times when sickness like yours strikes though. Your attitude is awesome – stay strong 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac January 19, 2017 / 10:54 am

      Good to hear it Laura! Thanks for reading once again 🙂

      Like

    • Jonathan Camac January 20, 2017 / 1:55 am

      Glad you got something from it H.M. Davis! Appreciate your continued reading here. God bless 🙂

      Like

      • H.M. Davis January 20, 2017 / 6:50 pm

        Sometimes, when the way has been long and dreary, the run becomes a walk, and the walk a trudge and all a weary pilgrim feels is the plodding cadence of her own tiresome tread. At such times, a word from a fellow sojourner reminds a body to remove her gaze from the ground at her feet and direct her eyes once more toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. In all honestly, I cannot thank you enough for sharing…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac January 23, 2017 / 3:26 am

        That is my deepest hope for any blogs I write. You’ve worded it beautifully. That I, just an insignificant and flawed guy, could direct others to our all powerful and all loving God. Keep looking to Jesus for all things H.M. Davis 🙂 Bless you!

        Liked by 1 person

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