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The Lord is my strength!

stories-3When I was 16 years old, I participated in a 1300 mile bicycle trip around Lake Superior. The trip took us through Wisconsin, Ontario and Minnesota. Twenty three of us embarked on this adventure. Although we had trained hard to get ready for cycling 100 miles a day, once into the trip we realized that the only way to really prepare for riding 100 miles a day is to ride 100 miles a day!

I was riding a 1968 Sears and Roebuck ten-speed racer with a hard plastic seat. Others rode heavy Schwinns and quite a few bought brand new Gitanes—a super light-weight French bike. But no matter what we were riding, by the third day our butts were sore! Past that third day mark we began to get into a groove in which we felt good and rode hard.

On one particular day I remember a 40-mile stretch of very flat road in Wisconsin. We had the wind to our backs and took turns drafting behind each other to maximize our efficiency. We rode that stretch in 90 minutes! We felt exhilarated and frankly a bit cocky that we could ride so far so fast on our bikes.

Each night along the way we camped in tents. The first half of the trip was great! The weather was warm and balmy. We found wild blueberries growing near one of our campsites in Michigan and added them to the pancake batter. We burned a lot of calories and ate a lot. We even found a sandy beach on Lake Superior that invited a refreshing swim. Life on this ride so far was good!

But in White River, Ontario, we woke to a cold, relentless west wind driving fine rain that pierced like needles. The temperature had plummeted to 35 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. Until now we had enjoyed weather that allowed us to ride shirtless with shorts. We simply weren’t prepared for this! We were soaked and numb with cold.

The rain made it more difficult to ride. Later in the day it was raining so hard, we couldn’t see well. We also became less visible to traffic and several of us had close calls with cars and trucks that forced us off the road. The terrain had also changed. We began encountering hills that were so long and so steep that the locals had given them names. All of these factors mounted to discourage and dishearten us and by that afternoon all I wanted was to call my dad and have him come pick me up!

As a 16-year-old I had not yet endured the experiences of life that toughen one’s spirit and resolve. So I was ready to give up. Our leader, Larry, recognized what was going on in me and challenged me. He pointed out that I had already successfully ridden half the trip and these trials were not a good reason to quit. Larry told me I could make it and that he knew I had it in me. Besides, the weather might improve.

But most importantly Larry challenged me to draw on God’s strength and his reserves. He introduced me to Isaiah 40:31 NLT, “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” That verse stuck in my head and heart and I truly found new strength in the Lord as I leaned on him.

With Jesus Christ as my Leader it was as though I was drafting behind him up those long hills. Even the cold, driving rain didn’t seem so bad anymore. In spite of the fact that the weather did not change for the next few days, I now approached the challenge differently. What had started out as a lark, was now significantly more difficult, but I found great joy in trusting Christ through it all. He gave me the strength to enjoy the ride on a new level.

On the final stretch as we pedaled into Minneapolis someone had tipped off the city and they provided a police escort in honor of our homecoming. That day we experienced the thrill and satisfaction of having completed that epic ride. But more than the ride, I’ve never forgotten how God rode with me and strengthened me.

For a 16-year-old that 1300 mile bicycle trip was a monumental trial. Since then, I’ve experienced many obstacles and trials that make those on the bicycle trip look puny. But I’ve found that by trusting Christ for successively bigger hurdles my faith in him grows each time. Now, over 40 years since that bike trip, my confidence in Christ continues to swell. To be honest, I still occasionally experience a trial so daunting that I feel I’ll be crushed under it. But every time I trust Christ and experience his faithfulness my foundation for weathering the next trial becomes even more firm and unshakable.

©2009 Rob Fischer

6 comments

1 Ray Edwards { 09.04.09 at 4:23 pm }

Encouraging and inspiring words indeed, Rob.

How often I put myself through anguish over some trial, forgetting to turn to the One who has “borne all my iniquities” and by whose “stripes we are healed”.

One of my favorite classic hymns says it well:

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

2 Heath McInnes { 09.07.09 at 5:40 pm }

Let’s do it again! I;m up for a challenge like that 🙂 That’s a great story – maybe our church can come up with a challenge to swell our confidence in Christ 🙂

3 Dennis E. Kluver { 09.07.09 at 6:11 pm }

Hi Rob:
What a wonderful story and so uplifting because it has 100% realism involved. I have several friends I want to recommend your newsletter too Rob; I know they will enjoy it very much. God bless you as you bless others with your newsletter.
In Him;
Dennis Kluver

4 Rob { 09.09.09 at 3:07 am }

Thanks Dennis, for recommending heapofstones to your friends!
Rob

5 Rob { 09.09.09 at 3:08 am }

Heath, I’m in!
Rob

6 Rob { 09.09.09 at 3:08 am }

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Ray!
Rob