The pic above looks serene, two nice looking bikes in the California redwoods on an early morning. September 2015. Yet the surface appearance never reveals a clue to the hard times those bikes and one other experienced on that trip. Nor the difficulties of the riders. Look at the brand new front tire on the red Honda ST1300. New because the fork seals had been replaced just before the trip, but improperly. One side of the tire wore excessively, and I struggled to find a mechanic who could replace the half bald tire, desperately searching along the Oregon and California coasts until we reached Ft. Bragg. Look at the clean charcoal Goldwing, and you'd never guess the problems Jerry had when his cruise control quit working properly, and left him with a regular cramp in his right arm. Mick's Honda Shadow 1100 isn't in this pic, but he only had a range of 130 miles, so one saddlebag was filled with a gallon of gas--just in case. And when we hit an incline, his city street gearing made the climb an exercise in patience. Or, his bike was slow. Very slow.
Bodywise, Jerry's bad back forced him to pack a special chair he could sleep in for motel rooms; my back got tweaked moving a gazebo the week before, and while riding was fine, I woke up each morning with a sore back. And Mick had to haul a CPAP machine so he could breathe at night.
But (and the important information always comes after the but), we're in the midst of planning next year's ride to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Many start off riding and go down and quit, or tire of it and quit, or the fear of getting hurt possesses them and they quit. We three have faced all these, and still ride. The joy and peace and oneness with nature and relationships overpower the fear and difficulties.
What a metaphor for the spiritual life! We three ride because the joy surpasses the problems and costs. Don't we all seek Jesus for the same reason? That passion for me doesn't mean I ignore problems, but that the benefits far exceed them. I wonder about a lot of issues, most of which have no answers this side of heaven. I have an intellectual answer to the problem of why good people suffer: free will in a fallen world, but I can't explain why some prayer requests are answered and others seem ignored or rejected. Some behaviors bring pleasure, but they oppose following Jesus, and I miss them. Knowing Jesus requires sacrifice, and reality requires we acknowledge that we give up some good things. I gave up Taos, almost heaven for me, to serve God in ministry. I don't regret it, but I miss it.
I hope this all makes sense. The reality of God, the assurance that he does love us, the acts he has done to make me a better person, and so much more all make the benefits of far more value than the problems. So, I encourage you. Don't let difficulties disappoint you. We have the promise that hard times are normal: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And "The one who is in you (Jesus) is greater than the one who is in the world (Satan)" (1 John 4:4).
Kick Starting the Application
What troubles are you facing now? What influence do they have on your closeness to God? Do you expect the Christian life to be easy, which causes disappointment? Try to list at list six major benefits that you have from following Jesus.