Stage 5 (29.6 miles) & 6 (25.75 miles)
After the reality sets in, it’s time to focus. It’s time to re-establish some goals. It’s time to quit dwelling on past mistakes, and look forward to the finish line. The only word I can think of to describe the next 50 miles of this ride is pain! Pain is such an interesting thing. It can either bring you to a complete stop, or motivate you to push through it. This is the portion of the ride where I began to contemplate quitting. The route is relatively flat, compared to other stages. There are no major mountains to climb. However, there are plenty of rolling hills. Ups and downs. The ups hurt the worst. My left knee begins to feel the most excruciating pain I can remember feeling. It literally causes me to cry out every time I rotate the pedals. Eventually the right knee decides to join in. How can I manage? Will I be able to finish? I could quit now, and the pain would go away.
But I have to remind myself (many times) that this is the day I have been preparing for all year. This is the ride of my life, and quitting now would leave me feeling – well, who knows what. If I quit, I have to tell everyone I didn’t finish. If I quit, I have to wonder if I could have made it. If I quit…
As a Christ follower, quitting often seems like the easiest way out of something. If I quit, I don’t have to worry about this or that. What’s the big deal if I don’t follow and obey everything Jesus called me to? I can do “my best.” He loves me just the same. So I may as well avoid as much pain as possible.
But that is not what we are called to. Jesus came to this earth, and endured unbelievable pain and suffering, so that we could spend eternity with Him. Quitting on Him would be like spitting in His face (as if we haven’t already done enough of that!).
Paul tells us in the New Testament that life is like a race. We have to endure suffering, press on to the end, look forward to the finish line. We must run the race with everything we have. Jesus Christ will empower us, He will give us what we need to make it through.
Life is full of ups and downs. The ups are tough. We strain to overcome certain habits, or to develop better ones. We suffer through difficulties, we try to overcome temptation. It’s these times in our lives that make us stronger. We must learn to trust and obey. Don’t give up, no matter how hard it looks, or how much it hurts. God’s plan for you is much bigger than you can see right now. Just keep pedaling!