Yours Vs. Mine

I just got off the stationary exercise bike at our house. I typically ride six miles when I am using this bike for cardio exercise, and it usually takes me about 22-23 minutes to complete that six miles. Sometimes I pause it to jump off and do some circuit calisthenics, and so my routine may take a little longer. But by the time I’m done, I’ve worked up a good sweat, my heart has pumped at a good pace, and my muscles feel that they have been well-used.

Now, I know that there may be someone reading who is a fitness fanatic. You read those numbers, and you are severely underwhelmed. Perhaps you even did the math while you read and quickly estimated that my biking is almost a four-minute mile. Then you may have thought, “Allen, don’t you know that there are plenty of people who run four-minute miles? You’re not doing very good exercising if you are only biking a four-minute mile.”

But here’s the thing… I’m not competing against those people. I’m not in a race. I’m not working toward a personal record. Nothing wrong with those things. It’s just not what I’m setting out to accomplish. I’m simply trying to conquer another day of cardio to keep my body in good health. The goal is different. So, it’s not comparing apples-to-apples.

This is where we often get into trouble. We look down on ourselves because we don’t feel like what we are doing compares to what someone else is accomplishing. We feel like our four-minute mile on an exercise bike isn’t as good as someone else’s four-minute mile on foot in a marathon. But we need to focus on what we are trying to accomplish.

The writer of Hebrews says we are to run the race God has set before us. Not the race He has set before other people. The race He has set before us. When we do this, we honor Him and accomplish our assignment more effectively.

You don’t have to keep up with someone else. You don’t have to give as much as they give… or serve how they serve… or worship the same way they worship. You do have to be true & faithful to what God has set in front of you to do if you want to truly succeed in life. And when you focus on the race set before you, you’ll see yourself succeeding more and more.

So, if you’re not impressed with my speed on the exercise bike, that’s okay. I’m not trying to impress or out-do anyone else. I’m just trying to stay healthy so I can honor God with my life and be here for my family and those I serve. Every time I knock out another six miles in 22 minutes, I wipe the sweat from my brow and feel the success of victory over my own laziness.

For the record, I’m not trying to make my distance or time what you need to strive for either. You’ve got your own race set out before you. So get out there, and do what you’re meant to do. You’re going to be great!

Just Keep Pedaling

I don’t really enjoy exercising. I know its benefits. I need to exercise, but just because I need to doesn’t mean I like to. Some days, the win is that I exercised at all instead of not exercising.

Yesterday was one of those days. I really didn’t want to exercise, but I hopped on the stationary bike because I needed to do it for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. I had already thought to myself, “If I can gut out 10-15 minutes, I’ll call it done.” Then my goal extended to 4 miles completed. (I typically aim for about 6-7 miles in about 22-23 minutes.)

Just about the time I met the 4-mile mark, Alex came in the room to get some of his school supplies to start his day. He saw me sweating it out and asked me, “How far have you ridden… and how long are you gonna ride that thing?” I replied with my distance, and told him I really needed to go another couple of miles and another 6-7 minutes. To which he exclaimed, “I don’t know how you do that!”

I thought for a moment, and then I answered, “I guess you just keep on peddling. You just don’t stop.” He said, “Yeah, but isn’t that hard?” Using my much-needed breath, I told him, “Yep, but you keep on going anyway.” That seemed to satisfy him, and he left me alone to… keep pedaling.

But now I had a little extra sense of being able to finish. I knew that… if I would just keep pedaling… if I just wouldn’t stop… I would get in my distance and my time. Sure I was sweating more than I wanted to. Sure I was tired of pedaling. Sure I wanted to stop and eat ice cream. But I kept pedaling anyway.

And guess what happened? I made it. I hit the 6-mile mark in just over 22 minutes. Now, that may not be impressive to you. You may be some kind major-ninja-exercise-guru-master who laughs at my distance or time with an air of superiority. But I just needed to exercise yesterday. I did it because I needed to do it… not because I wanted to. I didn’t feel like it. And I would have probably given up earlier if Alex had not walked in the room at that moment. But because he did… because he asked me those questions… because he unknowingly nudged me to do what it took to finish strong… I did better than I expected.

Maybe someone reading this today feels ready to quit doing what you need to do. You’re ready to throw in the towel. You’re beyond ready to give up. You’re tired. Your win today was getting out of bed and getting dressed. Beyond that, your expectations for the day include doing what you have to do to survive or get by. And you don’t even want to think about tomorrow… or next week… or next month… or next year.

Don’t give up. Whether it is finding the right job, improving your marriage, completing your education, or pursuing a lifelong dream, all you have to do is keep going. Yes, it may be hard, but you can do it. Yes, you may be tired, but you have what it takes to finish strong. Just keep pedaling. You’ll get there. The key is to just keep going on anyway, no matter how hard it feels right now. And when you reach your goal… when you finish strong, having done more than you thought you could… you will be so glad you did.

P. S. – In those moments when these words of encouragement are not enough to motivate you, ask God to help you. He will strengthen you and help you reach the finish line!

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