I’ve long said, as a semi-joke, that riding greatly increases my prayer life. And it should--a lot of idiots drive cars, bikes trade protection to gain speed and maneuverability, which inherently increase the dangers we face, bad weather can cause problems, and we all make mistakes. So, I pray that God in his mercy would keep me safe. But prayer plays another vital role in my riding.
Two of our Gray Hogs group regularly listen to praise music or sermons, but two of us ride in silence. We enjoy the glory of silence. That paid off on a ride to Washington where we cruised the Avenue of the Giants, those magnificent redwoods above.
I had planted a church in Temecula about eight years before and we reached a good number of previously unchurched people. But we hit a plateau that we couldn’t climb, exhaustion slowed me down, and I had no clue about our next step—should I resign and let the church find a new pastor? Should we beg or borrow enough finances to add a staff person? Should we close the doors? All of this came to a head just before the ride.
So I listed praise song titles on a card, attached it to the fairing, and sang them, loudly, on the first couple of days. I just wanted to immerse myself in his presence; prayer came in the next stage. We explored the history of the church, my gifts and weaknesses, future options, and a lot more.
The result? Not a clue about future steps. Merely an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and care. But on my first night home, Joe, the leader of the church planting association we had been working with, called me. He was leading a combination of other churches in the greater area. Would we like to participate?
After a great deal of discussion with their group, our elders and our congregation, the combination came together. The benefits: our church continued with fresh staff and a larger base of members and more financial support, and I received a needed sabbatical, one that opened the door to writing, which reaches far more people than I could have dreamed of as a pastor.
God created us like this, to get away at times: the Sabbath day of rest, Jesus also got away frequently, to restore his soul. Why is getting apart important?
First, God did and commanded it. After the hard work of creating a universe, he kicked back, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Genesis 2:2-3). Holy merely means separated from work. Not necessarily to be a slug, but to restore our souls.
And Jesus did it. Eight times Jesus got away from the crowds for solitude and prayer (Matthew 4:1ff, 8:18, 14:22, 15:39; Mark 3:7, 6:31, 6:46; John 6:15). The Son of God needed solitude, time with his dad. We too need to set our spiritual agenda. At the very heart is getting unbusy, apart from stress and demands and hurry. Yes, that will cause tension as we make changes. Yes, that will likely upset others.
Maybe we can decide to leave some margin. Maybe we not add new activities unless we eliminate current ones. Maybe we slow down enough to hear the quiet whispers of God. Maybe.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you sometimes feel rushed, like responsibilities crush you? If so, have you noticed a decreased ability to concentrate and to hear God? How busy are you, and how much uncommitted time do you have each week? When you get away, do you tend to fill the days with nonstop activities? Do you regularly take some time away to just bask with God and listen to him?