The older man held four fingers in front of my face as I breathed deep. The clock was ticking down the seconds and my time was near. Nervously clipped into my pedals and held upright by an invisible guy behind me, coffee was sweating out of my pours by the gallon.
The countdown was in slow motion. The audible count reinforced by the fingers in front of my face. “5-4-3-2-1 —GO MAN GO!!!” The fingers dropped out-of-the-way, and the invisible guy let go. It was now or never.
My heart rate quickly spiked to its threshold as my quads pushed with all their might against the steel pedals. I was looking straight up the mountain of doom wondering how much more pain I could take before my legs shut down. This would be one of the hardest uphill 3.4 miles of riding I would do all weekend.
Just about the time I thought I was either going to throw up or pass out, I crested the summit of the climb to see the finish line 200 yards ahead. Digging as deep as I could, I hammered the pedals, got into the drops and sweat out my guts. My face wrenched in pain I raced across the finish line. “11 minutes 25 seconds!” the guy yelled out. It was an effort that put me in 14th place and started the weekend-long stage race.
The performances on that hill defined our classification as riders for the weekend. Even though the race had two more days left, the Time Trial was the biggest and most important event. The results of that stage would be the benchmark for victory or mediocrity.
Reflecting on my performance over the weekend, I realized that it is also the difficult moments in our lives that define us as people. Our reactions to stress, trials and challenges shape our personalities and set us apart from others. When Christ says “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17) I truly think He is telling us to get suited up for a Time Trial where we need to give it all we have. Our confidence in Him as a coach should be our peace in the middle of the pain. He knows what He is doing. We just need to push on through and finish strong.
I can see improvements in my skills as a cyclist, but it is not without a cost. Life is not any different. It’s painful at times, exciting at times, at times we just want to quit, but when it is all said and done, the testing will be our reward in Heaven. The beauty is that we all win Gold if we trust in the plan.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.