I’ve written repeatedly about my few days in the desert from my JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes experience. Truthfully, it left such a lasting impression on my life I’ll be telling ride stories for decades to come. But today’s post is less about the desert and more about the desert places after a great ride Saturday.
The weather here last weekend was superb. The sun was out and temperatures still allowed for short sleeves and flip flops. I hadn’t taken a decent ride since returning from Death Valley, mostly because my schedule hadn’t allowed for it. Saturday though, I was free and set off for a ride with no plan in mind. I didn’t map a route. I didn’t set a time limit. I didn’t set a distance goal, a speed goal or even an incline goal. I just left on my bike and rode until I felt like going home. Thirty miles later, I pulled into my driveway with a smile recognizing the gift the desert had given me without my realizing it at the time.
On my ride Saturday, my average speed was faster than it had ever been before — by two miles per hour. The hills and gradual inclines I rode came easier than before, even though these roads are ones I’ve ridden dozens of times. My pace was stronger, as was my breathing and energy level. I didn’t require as much food, salt or water either. (Granted, I wasn’t in Death Valley where oxygen and air are in short supply). The best part though, was my pedaling. Thanks to friends and coaches in California, I learned a few new things about riding and Saturday, I concentrated on my form. Staying low in a headwind made a tremendous difference, as did the way I pedaled. While I’m not a fan of the desert and the Death Valley ride was perhaps the toughest thing I’ve ever done, it paid off in unexpected ways. The desert made me a better cyclist.
As I talked about this with one of my roommates, she reminded me of the desert places we travel through in life. The seasons of barrenness and loneliness. Those seasons when we feel like we are alone and God has abandoned us. We’ve all been through stretches of desert places, and while we’re trudging through them, it’s easy to lose sight of the finish line — of what comes after the desert. But on the other side, we are better and stronger. It’s in those desert places where we must realize our complete and total dependence on God. The tough seasons are what brings us to our knees and requires us to bow at His feet. And when we pass through the desert, we come out with a renewed faith and understanding of His sovereignty and love for us. It strengthens our relationship with Jesus, and it makes us better.
Whether I’m in a physical desert struggling to ride for seven hours or in a metaphorical desert struggling to surrender, I must remember He is good. He is faithful, and He is always good. It seems I keep being reminded how important those desert places are for my life.