Actually, there are more than 5; but the following five thoughts are what I would like to leave you with from my three-month, 4,427-mile self-supported bicycle journey from Yorktown, Virginia on May 3 to Astoria, Oregon on July 24.
- We live in an amazing country with a rich history, eclectic topography, and some very kind people. (Kindness is what people remember.) My trip began with a history lesson from the settlement of Yorktown in 1610, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark’s Discovery Corps, the westward expansion, the gold rush, and the founding and development of the Pacific Northwest all while riding through some of the most beautiful, rugged, and physically demanding changing wilderness landscape. It was like riding through a history book while observing what our predecessors saw. In their wake, their current day ancestors showed me, a complete stranger, extra-ordinary kindness. Leading the pack, was the kindness offered by many church congregations who opened their church buildings up to the safety, convenience, and well-being of cyclists.
- The spirit of God is at work, and He is listening in the remotest parts of the country. It is tempting to think of God’s presence only in our own church or community. Perhaps we even get tunnel vision to where we think God is working. Yet, upon my arrival or traversing the countless small communities of bicycle route 76 across America, I was reminded daily of seeing God at work.
- Addiction and poverty is prevalent in our most rural areas of the country. My goals were to take a break from 20 years of ministry to enjoy God’s intimate presence while riding a bicycle across 11 states from coast to coast. His intimacy proved to be most refreshing and encouraging as I meditated on specific scriptures, prayed, and worshiped. In addition, I wanted to promote our ministry and its fundraising event called the Youth Resiliency Adventure (www.YRAdventure.com). The YRA promotes addiction awareness and prevention strategies for youth. While many of the towns and communities I rode through had shuttered businesses, Dept of Human Services buildings, homelessness, and food banks; most all of them claimed to have a rampant drug problem. Some claimed to be the country’s epicenter. There was much interest in the event that suggested to me the timeliness of the event.
- The Lord’s Gym Ministry is a wonderful and unique ministry that must continue to proliferate and be supported. As I internalized number TAW No. 3 above, I thought how beneficial it would be to have a Lord’s Gym Ministry in many of these communities. It crystalized my conviction of what a great and unique ministry we have in our own community of Greater Cincinnati. From its humble beginnings, and the support of countless individuals over the decades, it has grown to such an effective ministry through its highly relational strategy and Christ-centeredness. As a result, its effectiveness, resulting in Transformed Lives, continues to draw hurting and impoverished men, women, and children through its doors. Churches too. It has become even more apparent to me that my role as Executive Director will be to ensure its vitality and support as I continue in this role. I do not see retirement as an option anytime soon. There is so much more work to do that I implore all who are reading this to help me by supporting the ministry as a volunteer, through prayer, and financial consideration.
- Take the Meriweather Lewis challenge. Merriweather Lewis, on his 31st birthday in 1806, while leading the Discovery Corps to navigate a northwest passage through and beyond the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, was being contemplative and reflective. As a result, he wrote that he needed to do more to serve mankind. As such, he stated that he was resolved to do more upon his return from his exploration status. His comments really challenged me as I experienced part of the trail and rigors along the same route as his Discovery Corps.
Furthermore, one of the cyclists I rode with in my second week, David, a fellow believer, reminded that effective people understand that they cannot change anyone – only themselves. At best, we can influence others. So, we should strive each day to ask God to help us be controlled by the Holy Spirit and make us more Christ like.