Cycling was a pleasurable pastime for me years ago. The journey to and from school and subsequently to work and back was good exercise, if nothing else. But that was just a short distance away.
This past weekend I managed to get caught up in the London to Brighton charity bike ride.
Not literally, of course, and I was warned about it beforehand. It happened that I was attending a church in Ditchling and discovered that the cyclists would be passing through the village, getting on for 30,000 of them, continuously throughout the day.
So, before the morning worship service began, I stood in front of the chapel, just watching. Many of the riders had started this marathon in South West London at 6 o’clock with 54 miles of demanding countryside ahead of them in Surrey and Sussex.
Perfect weather, it appeared, for the event - clouds but no rain; blue sky and sunshine as well, but not uncomfortably hot. People old and young, mainly men; slim, well-built, a few on tandems.
I only observed part of the ride, but what impressed me most of all, I think, was the encouragement of the marshals, on duty at the junction close to where I was standing. “Well done. Keep going!” were their actual words, over and over again. The cyclists were at that point approaching the steep climb to Ditchling Beacon, a real test of endurance.
Doubtless it was the hope of raising more than £3.5 million for the British Heart Foundation that pushed them on. I trust they all made it safely to their coastal destination.
“Keep going!” is an appropriate challenge for each one of us as we move on in our walk with the Lord.
We are reminded of the testimony of the apostle Paul, way before bikes were invented, in Philippians, chapter 3: “Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, I press on towards the goal for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (verse 14).
Hazards and obstacles there might be along the route, but the command is not to give up.