Archived Story

Your faith needs daily exercise and discipline

Published 9:25am Friday, March 16, 2012

Across the Pastor’s Desk

By the Rev. Tom Biatek, United Methodist Church of Albert Lea

I took my first bike ride of the season recently. The temperature was in the mid-70s, the sun was shining and there was very little wind. It was a perfect day to ride my bike.

But before I could get on the road, I had to dig the bike out from under all of the clutter we had put in our garage. I had to move the boxes of Christmas decorations out of the way. I had to move the trash can. I had to dig into the back of the garage to find where I had stored my bike back when winter began.

When I found my bike, I noticed it was dusty so I got a cloth and dusted it off. Then I noticed that the chain needed oil so I oiled the chain. The bike tires were flat so I had to find the pump (which was in the basement for some reason) and I pumped air into my tires. It was then that I noticed that the brakes needed adjusting so I adjusted the brakes. While testing the brakes, I discovered that the shifter wasn’t shifting quite right. I adjusted the shifter so I could properly shift gears. That made me think that I should probably adjust the seat. My bike light battery had gone dead so I found a new battery and got my light working again. My bright red shirt was in the bottom of my shirt drawer. My padded bike shorts were buried in the closet. My biking gloves were nowhere to be found. After two hours of adjusting, filling, finding and dusting, I was ready for my ride.

I hadn’t taken a bike ride in many months, so it was slow going. My muscles were stiff. My legs felt like lead. I was soon huffing and puffing up a hill. I had thought I might ride for about an hour but after only 30 minutes, I felt like quitting. It was not fun. While it was a beautiful day outside, it was an ugly bike ride.

Faith is a lot like riding a bike. It is something that most of us know how to do but, when we forget to keep working at it, faith can become dusty, flabby and weak. Sometimes we store (or forget) our faith and leave it unused and ignored for months. Instead of being the life giving and affirming vehicle that it is, a neglected faith begins to feel like a chore. Like the human body, our faith needs daily exercise and discipline to keep fit and whole. A faith that is only occasionally trotted out is a faith that will not sustain us well in times of need. Daily study of sacred scripture, frequent prayer and regular time with God are vital to a spiritual life. A strong, healthy faith gives us the endurance to climb the challenging hills of life and sustains us on the journey. A strong faith brings joy and happiness to those that have done the hard but rewarding exercise of daily faith.

I am determined to get back into “biking shape” this year and will be taking my regular rides now that the weather is good. I have also relearned the lesson of exercising my faith so that I can run the great race of life with my Creator. I hope that you find the time to enjoy these beautiful days and take time to thank God for the blessing of warmth and sunshine.

“…Run with endurance the race set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith … For consider the one that endured … unless you become weary and faint in your minds.” — Heb 12:1-3.