It was a slightly unpleasant afternoon as I realized how much we had talked about Sunday morning and Saturday night began to creep into my life.
On Sunday Afternoon…
I was tempted to just watch TV instead of ride bikes with the kids.
I was tempted to go buy pre-made food instead of prepare my own because I felt justified in my laziness.
I was tempted to stay up late to watch a movie, and I did, which wasn’t such a great idea when the alarm went off at 6:30am.
I was also tempted to snack during the movie, but didn’t only because we need to go to the grocery store.
Don’t beat yourselves up when you fail. Just learn from it and move on. Satan wants us to feel like the path we are on with Christ is an endless path of being a complete disappointment. The reality is that as long as we are able to recognize our shortcomings we’ll lean more fully on Christ, and our vulnerability to temptation will decrease.
So, I am trying to ride my bike to work at least once a week. Depending upon the weather and my schedule I pick a day and just do it. It’s a 17 mile round trip and I end up burning around 1200 calories. It’s that last fact that is a real motivator. The more often I do that the more I don’t have to worry about what I eat and drink. However, I don’t ride my bike from home. I drive to the Horse Park and park at the head of the Legacy Trail, a run, walk, bike trail that takes me right to work. It’s a great trail and it was a cool morning. It was a perfect morning.
It’s the drive to the Horse Park bit that makes my actions inexcusable. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
On Tuesday night I packed my backpack. This time I even remembered underwear and an extra shirt for the trip back. Nothing defeats the clean and fresh feeling of a shower like having to wear sweaty underwear. I remembered to pack a water bottle this time. The last time, and first time, I was left dying of thirst and remained dehydrated most of the day. I even packed my laptop to use at my second job that evening. I thought I had everything and made my way to the car. As I left the driveway I remembered that someone had borrowed my truck last weekend and removed my bike helmet from the back seat. Proud for not forgetting it, and recalling an innocent trip to Wal-Mart that resulted in a tumble over the handle bars, I opened the garage door and retrieved my helmet.
Before I got to the end of the street I recognized that my lovely wife had left the truck on empty. She had taken my truck the night before which put a little monkey wrench into my plans to pack everything up for my trip as soon as I got home from our family outing. So, I pulled into the gas station to fill up, and was on my way in no time.
I arrived at the trail promptly at 7:00 am and judged that I would be to work, showered and in my chair by 8:00 am. I parked smartly behind a tree so that I would get afternoon shade. I selected my podcast for the ride, opened the Map My Tracks App and selected cycling as the exercise of choice. I made sure my Garmin Forerunner was reading my heart monitor and I exited the vehicle with my backpack in tow.
I looked into the bed of the truck and was immediately struck by what I saw.
That’s right I had everything but the bike for my bike ride. I was tempted to run the trail but a recently strained right calf was far from ready for that.
I know what you are saying, “How do you forget your bike?”
Here’s the kicker. I had multiple opportunities to recognize that the bike was missing. I walked right past the bed of the truck to get in the first time. When I exited and entered the truck a second time when I went to retrieve my helmet would have been a good time to recognize. Even the gas station where I stood at the bed of my truck for at least 10 minutes would have been a redeemable situation, but it wasn’t until I needed the bike that I recognized it was missing.
I had remembered the day before that I needed to put the bike in the truck. I had planned to put the bike in the truck upon my arrival home. But I never actually put the bike in the truck.
It reminds me of the parable that Jesus tells of the two sons who were told to do something by Dad. One said he would and didn’t do it and the other said no, but did it (Matthew 21). Often our spiritual development gets short circuited by confusing intention with action. Sociologists have even discovered that you are less likely to achieve a goal if you tell others about it, than if you keep it to yourself. For some reason our brain seemingly convinces us that we’ve already achieved the goal.
I don’t know if that is what happened to me, or if habit just got in the way, or if I’m getting old, or if God knew my right calf needed another day. I’d like for the last one to be true. In any case, I failed to reach my goal for the day, but God willing, I’ll try again.
However, the events of the day have also caused me to look retrospectively at where I have confused intention and action. I’m asking, “Where have I fallen short of actually following through?” and “How can I eliminate the intention-action confusion in the future?” I might need to make a list and check it off, or maybe I just need to slow down and make sure I have everything for the journey.
Can you relate?
While I am not real keen on Daniel Pink’s former life as a speech writer for the inventor of the internet, Al Gore. I do find his case to be an interesting one.
In the Church our motivation for our work should be Christ born out of a continual recognition of the work of salvation, the hope of the resurrection, and the presence of the Holy Spirit during our life of sanctification. I find the case that Daniel makes here translates really well to those of us who follow Jesus because when we find ourselves adrift it may only take a quick look as to what our motivators have been in order to make a course correction.