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Biking With Butterflies
| Markita Daulton

   "You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

Psalm 16:11

  I did it! I broke my distance record. A little over two years ago, I bought my own decent quality bicycle. It seemed like perfect timing since we were planning a get-away to Mackinac Island, which has a biking trail around the island’s eight-mile perimeter. I wanted to acclimate myself to riding before the much-anticipated trip.  I remember the first time I rode five miles. I surprised myself because I couldn’t envision riding that far as an individual that certain people would call old (I prefer to be called mature). I eventually conquered a 25-mile ride that spring. I was sore the next day, but it was worth the gain of self-confidence that it afforded me.

     Just the other day, after I took off for a ride with no particular goal or destination, I decided that it was a good day to exceed that 25-mile distance from two years ago. With plenty of water and a snack (since it felt like I was going off on a long trek into the wilderness), I aimed my handlebars toward the open road that leads to a beautiful farm-filled part of the county. More than two and a half hours later, I rolled into my driveway, with a thankful heart, a couple of bruised legs, and a scuffed bike.

     Procrastination and laziness. That’s what I was struggling with. I felt stuck in my own lack of motivation. I have always heard that if you become more intentional, determined, and self-disciplined in one small area of your life, it is likely to spill over into other parts of your life. As I reflect on the sweet little lessons that God taught me that day, here is what I know about getting unstuck:

  1. Set a Goal -Accomplishment begins with a goal. If I have no goal, I will certainly accomplish nothing significant. My goal? Ride over 25 miles.

  2. Set Myself Up for Success – I made sure that I rode at least 13 miles away (more than half of my goal) from my house so that I would be much more likely to break my distance record. If I only went 8 or 10 miles away, it would be easy to cut my ride short. It would have been self-defeating if I had to call my husband to come get me somewhere out by a cow patch because I fizzled out. So I determined that no fizzling would be allowed.

  3. Enjoy the Ride – I am constantly on the lookout for something special and memorable when I’m riding. I have raced with deer, flown with finches (metaphorically speaking), and biked with butterflies. I sometimes allow myself a short break to sit by a gurgling stream or to walk through an old cemetery with crumbling headstones. I capture some of these moments with a photo or two. I’m not riding only to exercise or to get somewhere. I’m riding because I enjoy getting out in nature and exercising at the same time! God hides treasures everywhere intentionally so that His kids can experience magical moments. But we must be on the lookout and have eyes to see.

  4. Focus on the Path – I may have kind of, sort of, wrecked that day. Okay, I did. I did wreck that day. The moment I was trying to stop my riding app on my phone with one hand and braking with the other was the moment I crashed and burned. Don’t worry, only a little crashing and burning. Afterward, as I was straightening my handlebars and twisting my brake control to its correct position, I hopped back on my blue bike and laughed at myself. Sometimes we lose focus because we forget where we’re headed. We think something else is more interesting or more important. And sometimes, we end up detouring, perhaps never getting back on the path. Thank you, Lord, for protecting me, and for showing me that I need to keep my eyes on the path you’ve set before me. Thanks for helping me get back up.

  5. No Shortcuts – On my way back to my house, I realized that I could take a different route that would knock off several minutes of riding to get me back sooner to my humble abode. For a moment, I entertained the idea. After all, my legs were getting tired. I even had some stomach cramps. Besides, I was hungry (that small snack was inadequate!). But then I remembered my goal. My goal wasn’t a destination. My goal was a journey of over 25 miles. I could have gone the way of the shortcut, but then I wouldn’t have reaped the reward of reaching my true goal. The one that had been placed on my heart that would help me get freed from my recent leaning toward laziness.

  6. Go a Little Further – A little trick that I taught myself years ago when I began walking for better health was to challenge myself to go just a little further than planned. Walk for five minutes more. Ride just one more mile. Go to the next light pole instead of the one I had aimed for. And you know what? It works! We can usually do more than we thought, give more than we had planned, travel further than we thought we could. We develop perseverance and confidence which ends up helping us through those hard mountain passes of life that God sometimes calls us to.

  7. Take Joy in the Accomplishment – As I heard the comforting crackle of my gravel driveway under my bike tires, I took joy in the fact that I had gone 3 miles more than planned! I had exceeded my original goal and felt so good about it. If I had given up when I wrecked and called my husband to rescue me, I wouldn’t have experienced the satisfaction. If I had taken the shortcut, rather than radiating joy, I would instead be irritated with myself for being slothful. Do the hard thing! It builds character and rewards generously.

  8. Remember the Lessons – Our wise and loving Father-God uses everything in life to instruct us. He teaches us in good times and in devastating times. There are eternal lessons in the big events and in the smaller, mundane occurrences. As I scan my bruises, rest my tired muscles, and satisfy my hungry stomach, I realize anew that a worthwhile journey will most likely include pain, failures, injuries, crucial decisions, self-denial. But it will also include breathtaking beauty, peaceful waters, satisfying accomplishment, and the sweet taste of victory. God is in it all. He’s there on the curves and swerves of the unexpected. His hand catches me in the crashes and splashes. He is ever-present to cheer me on when I don’t think I can go on and when I'm black and blue from the battle. He lifts me up when I have no strength left and no reason to hope in my circumstances (My hope is in Him, not in my circumstances). He claps for me like a doting parent claps for his child who teeters for the first time on a bike without training wheels, glad to see me try, try, try again. It’s so good to journey with the One who loves me most! He’s good! Life is good!



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