October 19, 2012 by Josh
I once took a bike trip with my best friend Teel Short. We decided one day that people should hear about what Jesus is doing in the church of the third world, specifically a church in Ndola, Zambia. In the summer of 2011, we chose to bike across the country and tell anyone who cared to listen.
The interesting part about this idea is that we made this decision without having bikes, a bike route, any idea where we would stay, or truly any idea how we would do such a trip. But we believed that God had a hand in this, and we continued to see it through. We worked to save money and went to Ndola, Zambia. We raised money and we bought special bikes with special shoes that fit into these special bike pedals. We trained every other day on these bikes and fell a lot because those tricky pedals were hard to get used to. We created a route, called churches, filmed and edited a short movie, and we bought plane tickets to Portland, Oregon to begin on the west coast. We did everything we possibly could to prepare for this adventure.
I won’t forget the first day we set off in Astoria, Oregon. Our friend, Kaleb Nyquist, dropped us off next to the ocean with all of our gear attached to our bikes. It was 4 p.m. and there was a light mist, which we found is the default vibe in the Pacific Northwest. Before setting off we prayed and looked up at this highway, which turned into darkness as it inclined itself into a giant hill- shadowed with trees.
We took a deep and terrified breath, and began pedaling. The first two hours of our 75 day adventure were some of the most frightening of my life. I have never felt so scared as these logging semi-trucks whizzed by, spraying water on us as we were huffing up this dark hill, doing our best to balance on the side of the road where we were only focused on not falling off the cliff to the right. After two hours, a popped tire, and only 15 miles up, we made it to the top and I hopped off my bike only to cry uncontrollable in the arms of Teel. I cried from sheer terror and humility. I did not want to continue, and I had no confidence in what we were trying to do. I was a wreck.
I could only remember one other time in my life that I felt this alone.
It was the summer before my junior year in high school. My parents divorced this summer. Around this time I also had a rough social life. I had a girlfriend cheat on me after a year and a half of dating (which is a big deal when your 16)! In that, I also lost the majority of my friends, because they were all her friends too. Two days after I found out about her cheating on me, I was angrily texting her while driving, which turned into me unintentionally totaling my car into a tree head on. Now with a black eye due to the airbag, divorced parents, and a newly single man due to a cheating girlfriend, I remember getting out of the smoking car at midnight on a desolate road screaming in terror with no one else around. I was a wreck.
I tell you these intimate moments of my life because I believe they have a purpose. In both instances I feel my life was wrecked and God was there to rebuild it for His Glory. I was broken and was left to choose if I was going to surrender all of my baggage and walk with Him instead.
It reminds me of the man who was beside the healing pool of Bethesda for 38 years until Jesus came up next to him (John 5:1-14). He sat there paralyzed for 38 years somewhat settled in his condition, but always hoping to get well. Jesus went beside him and asked him, “do you want to get well?” “Pick up your mat and walk!” The man immediately got up and became well! Finding out that Jesus believed in Him, the man after 38 years believed in himself, and became well!
The summer when my world came crashing into me was also the summer I went to CHIC in Tennessee. I realized there that my life was going to take a new direction- a direction where God was included and leading the way for the first time ever. I made new friends at high school my junior year, and I stayed optimistic throughout my parent divorce.
I didn’t realize it then, but as I was bawling my eyes out in the rain atop our first hill in Astoria, Oregon, I was surrendering control of the trip because I could not do it by myself. Teel and I had to trust that God would provide security and strength in our 75 days across the country. We decided to continue onward, slowly, and over the next couple weeks, biking 75 miles a day became a routine and somehow enjoyable at times. But each one of those days, I had to renew that decision to surrender control.
For me, in both circumstances, I believe that the ultimate decision to be on a path of “wellness,” to be in the arms of God, was in my hands. The only way I stepped out of my selfish bubble junior year, was to choose to step out of my selfish bubble junior year. The only way I surrendered control of the bike trip, was to choose to surrender control of the bike trip. The only way the sick man at the healing pool became well is because he chose to become well.
Jesus believed in Him, Jesus believed in me, and Jesus believes in you. Let us pick up our mats and walk!