June 04, 2005


There is a new weekly column in our local newspaper; it's a weekly message written by a local pastor, based on their Sunday sermon. Next week is my turn. The biggest challenge, I found out, is choosing the 600-700 words the paper wants from a sermon that is about 2000 words long.

Anyway, here's my attempt. It will appear next weekend. Any feedback would be appreciated. (And Joaquin, if you read this, be sure to let me know what you think.)

A few weeks ago, several bike riders stopped by Fairview Community Christian Church as part of the first annual NorCalAIDSChallenge, a four-day, 380-mile ride that raised over $70,000 for AIDS prevention and treatment.

By about 9:00, I, along with about a dozen church members, had gathered at the church, waiting for the riders to appear. Then word came that one of the riders had crashed on the railroad tracks, just a half-mile from the church. The rider's name was Joaquin, and though hurt, he was able to continue. A few minutes later he and all the other riders arrived at the church, their second rest stop of the day.

Joaquin stayed with the group, and after resting, they continued on their way. As far as I know, all 21 riders made it to the finish line.

In the weeks that have gone by since then, Joaquin has somehow found me on the internet, and has sent me several messages. Each one of those messages has basically said the same thing: "Why don't you ride with us next year?" When I received the first message, I laughed. I thought he was joking.

It wasn't until later that I realized that my laughing was the same as Sarah's laughing in the book of Genesis. Sarah had heard from God that she, "old and advanced in age" as she was, would soon give birth to a baby. Sarah laughed because she didn't believe it was possible. She laughed, because what she heard sounded absurd.

I laughed for the same reason.

I thought about my bicycle, sitting in the garage, with one flat tire. I bought that bike seven years ago, at a yard sale. I wrote a message back to Joaquin, informing him that I've never done any long-distance riding, that the longest bike ride I've taken in the last ten years was less than fifteen miles. I don't even own a helmet.

I sent this message to Joaquin, expecting him to write me off as hopeless. Instead, he sent me another message informing me that several of this year's riders were in exactly the same situation as me, before they started training a few months before the ride.

I'm not laughing anymore.

I still don't have the right equipment, though. I don't have the right type of bicycle. I don't have a helmet or the right shoes. And also, I don't have those tight-fitting lycra shorts that all serious cyclists must have; and even if I did, I'm not sure that I'd know what to do with them, how to put them on, or even what kind of underwear one is supposed to wear underneath; and I don't know how I'd find out, since I'm too embarrassed to ask.

I don't have the right equipment. The right equipment costs money, and I don't have a lot of that, either. And, despite what Joaquin said, I don't feel that I have enough cycling experience.

No equipment. No money. No experience. According to Jesus, these are exactly the right qualifications for being a disciple.

Those whom Jesus called to be his disciples appeared to have no experience that would have equipped them for the work Jesus was calling them to do. Were I one of those disciples called and sent out by Jesus, I would have protested. I would have laughed. And it would have been the same laugh that Sarah laughed. It would have been the same laugh I laughed when Joaquin invited me to ride next year. It's the laugh of disbelief. It's the laugh of, "You can't be serious!" It's the laugh of, "I could never do that."

Following Jesus, and answering God's call, often seems an impossible task. It seemed impossible for the disciples. It also seemed impossible for the apostle Paul, a former persecutor of Christians who became the chief architect of the new Christian movement. Yet, as Paul eventually realized and wrote in one of his letters: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."

Does this mean I'll ride next year? The thought still scares me. But I'm running out of excuses.


Purple Hydrangea said...


How about you and I train together.. I also do not own those lycra bike shorts or the right equipment either.. but maybe this is a calling that we should not miss ??

Michelle ;0)

PPB said...

I think it's perfect!

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

Nicely done. Good job!

reverendmother said...

Great synthesis! Hangs together very well.

Danny said...

Thanks for your comments. I just sent off the article to the newspaper. It will appear on Saturday's edition of the Appeal-Democrat (but only in print, not online).