Riding My Bike and getting Nearer to God

"How did this happen?"
I stepped on the scale and tipped it at 250 lbs (113 kgs) in May, 2001. How did this happen? I could not believe it. My blood pressure was 150/95. I had become a complacent couch potato happy to live my life vicariously through a television set and a computer. The young man who was always in the natural world on the trail was now only socializing with a blue flashing screen, and the results were starring me in the face.

My spiritual life was also reflecting my weight. "Real one on one Time" with the Lord was just as common as my time with my hiking boots. I filled my day with constant activities, church work, classes, and other responsibilities. The noise from computers, radios, and televisions were constantly filling my mind. But the Quiet Spirit of God was passing by like a whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-13
...Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave...

There were Idols in my life ...
There were Idols in my life that had replaced my time with God and my time in His Creation. It was through his creation, as a boy on a trail in Maine, that I looked around to the mountains and sky and living creatures, and knew that there was a marvelous God who perfectly designed what I saw. That experience started my first spiritual pilgrimage that led me eventually to Jesus.
What happened to that relationship so long ago? What Idols had moved into my temple. Some of those idols were my car, my computer, and my TV. These things robbed my time with God and my time outside in the real world.
I rode my car everywhere to save time. For what? I only ended up watching more TV. Because of this I missed many opportunities to stop and speak to neighbors. One can not be a witness for God if you are always zooming by in a car.
My prayer life also moved indoors out of the natural world. Gone were the evening strolls up to Peters Hill to spend time with the father. Time outside was reduced to walking from my house to the air-conditioned car, and my middle showed it.

"She left me huffing and puffing in the dust."
Then one day my wife and I went on a walk. I always walked faster than her with my longer legs. She always asked me to slow down. But on this day she walked ahead. She left me huffing and puffing in the dust. I could not catch up. I thought my lungs were going to explode. The Idols of American culture had blessed me with a weight that was strangling me. I could not breathe. My joints hurt. The sweat fell from my brow in great drops. I, who used to climb mountains in New Hampshire and Maine, could not climb a small hill in Boston.
That is when I cried out to the Lord to save me from myself! Save me from the world that man created, and bring me back into the real world that God created!
James 4:4,5
4 You adulterous people, don?t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
Note: When the Scriptures speak about the world in the Bible, it generally means mankind, and what man has created, his world system, the things he lusts and covets after (Lk 2:1, 12:30; Jn 7:4, 12:19; 1 Cor 1:20). The creation that God made was seen as good. (Gen 1:31)

"MAD FAT! How can you Live?"
God heard my cry and blessed me with a very rude 13-year-old boy in the school I worked in. This boy would insult me at every chance he could get. He would yell across the cafeteria at me.
                                                                 "MAD FAT! How can you Live?"
He became my prophet of God pointing to my sedentary body and brought judgment to me and a warning. The Judgment; I was FAT. The warning; "Do you think you will live long this way?" I knew I had to come back to God or die very young. My physical life was a mirror of my spiritual life. It was time to clean this temple!

1 Corinthians 6:12,13
12 "Everything is permissible for me", but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me", but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food" but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
Philippians 3:17-21
17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

I said Anathema to my car
Lifestyle Changes I decided to go Low-Tech!
- First change happened around Father's Day. I bought myself a "Total Gym" to tone my upper body. When did I have time to work out? I set it up in the TV room. The boundary set for myself was; If no workout, then no TV. Thus I would pop a 2-hour movie in and start working.
- Second change: My lunch bag suddenly contained lots of fruit and a power bar, instead of the pizza or fried chicken in the school caf?.
- Third change: I bought a Camel Bak back pack (a pack that contains a 2 liter water bladder to keep a person well hydrated as they hike or bike). I then shut off the TV, and put my walking shoes on. I started to hike to places I would usually drive to. I started walking to the church 3 miles away. I started hiking to the church for Bible Study, Prayer Services, and finally to the Main Sunday Service. I hiked in 95 degree heat and 40 degree rainy weather. I would bring a change of clothes and arrive early to wash up and dress up before the service. I was always early which gave me time to get into a more prayerful mood before service started.
- Forth Change: I parked my power mower and bought an old-fashioned push mower to do our lawn. It was a lot friendlier on my ears, and gave me a nice workout without ever entering a gym. I have my old reliable rake and snow shovel ready for the next seasons coming up. The leaf blower and snow blower can collect dust this year.
- Fifth Change: I opted to work with kids in a summer camp during the summer school break. Instead of doing temp work in some air conditioned office behind a computer, I was being paid to hike, canoe, and play sports for 8 weeks. What a life!
- Sixth Change: The biggest lifestyle change is when I bought myself a nice hybrid touring bike. I said Anathema to my car, parked it and started commuting to work 16 miles a day. I also bike to the store and do all my short distance errands on my bike (short distance is defined as everything within a 6-mile radius of my house). This fall I plan to continue commuting to work as long as the road is ice and snow free. With the proper clothing, I will stay warm and dry even in the foulest weather. I already proved to myself as a child I could snowshoe or cross country ski in very cold weather and still stay warm and dry.

The results of these lifestyle changes:
-Because my wife has joined me on our bike rides. We are spending lots of healthy time together.
- I have lost 2 1/2 pounds a week. Which translates 22 1/2 pounds for the summer.
- My blood pressure is back down from 150/95 to 130/70!!!!!
    A 25 point drop in pressure without using medical drugs!!!!
- Heart rate at rest has gone down from 75 BPS to 58 BPS.
- I had to punch new holes in my belts
- I see and speak to my neighbors more often, because I am outside.
- I have a great tan without having to pay and plan time in some tanning bed.
- My asthma incidents have reduced.
- I can climb that hill without breaking a sweat.
- I have regained most of my flexibility that I had years ago.
- The environment is healthier because I am not burning expensive gasoline into the atmosphere or leaking fluids into the environment. (Every mile walked or biked saves the environment between 1 to 3 pounds of pollution given off from a car engine). To read other benefits of commuting by bike click here.
- And because I am outside most of the time; I have seen 2 Bald Eagles, 3 Ospreys, 2 Great Egrets, a dozen or more Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Harbor Seals, a bunch of Red Tailed Hawks, a Wild Turkey, a couple Great Blue Herons, Deer, Porcupine, Raccoons, some great Sunrises and Sunsets, and lots of God's beautiful country.
- All this and I never had to join a gym. I just had to shut off the TV and commute by shoe or bike.
- The very rude boy can't call me mad fat anymore. He was impressed when he saw me at school.

Spiritual Results:
1 Timothy 4:8
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Getting outside to exercise is a great way to feed your spirit. Jesus spent His prayer life outside in the wilderness. He was always in the wild places with his creation; on a mountainside, a garden, in the wilderness spending all night in prayer. For more detailed scriptures see the article Respect and Responsibility to all God's Creation

My benefits from these lifestyle changes are:
I have been more conscious of God because his creation reflects his glory.
- My mind is more clear headed from the biking and walking and hiking, so my prayer and worship time have been richer.
- My walks have become prayer walks, like Adam walking in the cool of the day with God. It was on the trail as a teen that these times had become a rich prayer pilgrimage.
- With my pocket Bible, the tops of hills or wooded glades have become church sanctuaries where I can commune with the father.
- When I am riding the bike or walking, I feel God smile.
So now my physical and spiritual lifestyle changes are creating a good harvest in my life. I am spending more time with God in His Word, in prayer, and in His Creation. And I am growing stronger and healthier to be ready to do the work he is calling me to do. Shut off your computer, put on your sneakers and come join me outside. Look up and see God's Great creation, and praise His Name!

See You On The Trail! Bring Your Bible!

Pastor Harry