Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What does it really matter?

My wife and I completed the Cape Argus Cycle Tour on 13 March 2005. It is the largest individually timed race in the world with a limit of 35,000 entrants. It is a hilly 109Km (67.73mi) race with some of the most spectacular scenery to be seen. It was also a day with strong winds that caused many speed wobbles on a route that was covered with cyclists from beginning to end.

My wife and I ride a tandem bicycle and we started with the social tandem category at 08:40 in the morning. The winner of the race finished 12 minutes after we started. I still believe there should be a category for people like my wife and I and some other tandem riders: the VERY social tandem category. Our VERY social status can be seen in the time it took for us to finish the race: 6 hours 4 minutes. During the race our tandem's back wheel had 3 punctures and the back chain also came off. To top it off, my left quad, that had been giving me lots of troubles for the last 3 months, started hurting real bad with about 64Km (39.77mi) left in the race. At the top of the highest point in the race with about 14Km (8.7mi) left in the race I decided to stop for some physio. Needless to say, we finished the race and I am glad we did it.

My wife has been asking if we could have done better in the race. I suppose we could have if we did more than the odd Saturday ride in the last 6 weeks before the race.

This made me think of the 1000s of riders who did not make their goal times on race day. Some missed it by a few minutes while others missed it by much more. Some are very upset that they missed their goal times by those few minutes. My question is this: What does it really matter? If we are not challengers for top honours and we end up missing our own goals by those few minutes, what do we gain by being upset by it? Some get so upset by this that it makes me think that it is such a great matter of importance to them that it literally defines their lives.

Now, some of these people are Christians and it makes me wonder how these people think if this is something that defines their lives. In these cases the sin of pride rears its ugly head. It ends up that all these people can talk about is cycling and the few minutes they did not make. Please, do not read between the lines here since I am not writing ANYTHING between the lines. I believe it is wonderful when people can push themselves to do better in every field of life, but when Christians' lives are defined by anything but the Lord Jesus then they have propped up an idol in their lives.

Way back in 1993 I ran my first Comrades Marathon. I went on to run 3 of them with my last one in 1995, the same year my first child was born (a beautiful little girl who turned 10 this year). I soon realized that my goals of running and training for the Comrades Marathon (90Kms) took too much time away from my daughter. That is when I decided that running was not as important as my daughter. The same goes for cycling. If it starts interfering with my family relationships (wife, daughter and son), it will have to go. I think it is this attitude, which my wife shares with me, that ensures that we will never be one of the fast tandems. Since our training day is a Saturday, and our kids have sporting events on many Saturdays, we end up not riding as much as we could. My rule is this, if my kids have events on Saturdays, we simply do not go ride.

My greatest fear for so many Christians that get involved in sport, is that it becomes their defining activity in life. Instead of always having Christ before them and encouraging one another in the faith, one only hears about the sport that they do. I do not want this to happen to me or my family. I still endeavour to live out the motto that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Christ." If we find our satisfaction in anything but Christ, how can God be glorified in us? How can we glorify God if our lives are defined by a sport, or a job, a car, a house, a neighboirhood or the money we make?

Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire fame said: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." The difference between Eric Liddell and many of today's Christians in sport is that Eric Liddell never forgot God's purpose for him and he ended up dying in China proclaiming the gospel to a lost nation.

How many of us as Christians can truly say that God has a higher purpose for us than riding pieces of metal or carbon fibre and finding personal worth in that?

Just thinking...

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