“Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
A colleague and I found ourselves with an unexpected free afternoon while on a work trip. Chad asked if I was interested in a bike ride. I don’t know about you, but when I hear “bike ride,” I imagine a flat, car-free trail, and a bike that has big handle bars and a large cushy seat. Knowing my half-Ironman co-worker, I should have known better. I did have the opportunity to decline, but I thought perhaps my occasional cycle class would allow me to squeak past the finish line of our 50-mile ride. With an unfamiliar bike, an unfamiliar terrain, and familiar lack of hand-eye coordination, I decided I would avoid shifting gears. At mile 15, Chad politely asked me if I liked riding in the gear I was in. “Oh yeah,” I said with unconvincing confidence. As we began to climb, I quickly realized staying in the same gear was not an option. As I clicked once, I felt a jolt of short-lived relief and energy. As the trail continued to turn and rise, I was aware that I was at the end of my available gears. With still more incline ahead of me, I began to shift my thinking from when the climb would be over, to what might be the safest and least embarrassing place to give up. Patiently riding behind me, Chad offered another polite observation, “Almost there. Just want to point out that you have 3 more gears left to shift.”
As I tried not to pass out during our brief water break at the top, I thought about how foolish I was to think I would not have to shift gears on a 50-mile ride, how sure I was that I had exhausted all of them and how that almost led to quitting. How often in my leadership do I pedal the way I know versus the way that is most effective in the moment? How much do I place false constraints on my own capacity or the capacity of others? More importantly, in my ride of faith, how often do I put my constraints on God’s grace, rather than continuing to ask for more? Let’s give thanks that when we accept God’s invitation to climb, He gives us all the gears we need.