“If I had the opportunity, I don’t think I’d even want to do this trip alone. It’s so much better with others.”
I recently returned from an epic and grueling week-long backpacking trip with two other pastors from M28 Alliance (our church network). On our wide mountain bike tires, we journeyed 216 miles from Durango, CO to Moab, UT over the course of seven days. Our quads shouted in pain at the 20,991 vertical feet we climbed, and our rear ends groaned from 36 hours of bike travel time in one week. The experience ranks in the top five athletic challenges I’ve faced.
We biked with minimal supplies (clothes, bike gear, food and water) until daily reaching a hut in the wilderness. Each hut had lots more food and water, as well as propane stoves, cookware, and bunk beds. Some of these huts were located in high-elevation alpine; others were in the blazing hot desert. We’re all in a long grueling hut-to-hut bike ride, as it were, right now. Life on this side of heaven is just that, long hard stretches with brief stops of rest.
Magnificent views kept us motivated. We saw sunrises over mountain passes, deep canyons in the full moon light and, best of all, rich golden aspen groves! Each of us couldn’t help but point out to each other the breathtaking beauty of the rich fall colors of the aspens. So beautiful were the views, they honestly seemed to lessen the pain on the long, slow climbs.
We were discussing the trip thus far at one of the huts and someone made the comment, “If I had the opportunity, I don’t think I’d even want to do this trip alone. It’s so much better with others.”
The beautiful view of God’s creation was enjoyed more richly in community. Hearing others express their amazement in the golden aspen leaves helped me to enjoy their beauty even more.
But we needed each other even more than that. Each one of us had physical needs others on the team met. We cooked for each other, shared gear, and helped fix each other’s bikes. One of my friend’s hands became so weary that he needed others to do simple tasks like taking off his socks.
Each one of us had a moment in the trip in which we cried as we faced issues of the heart. We needed one another for comfort in processing emotional struggles we had experienced. The availability of empathetic listening from one another was priceless.
In your life, are you trying to bike ride it alone? Most certainly, at least one of your grueling trials has to do with the downstream effects of COVID. In recent months, we’ve given fresh intentionality towards connecting our church family with each other in a small group. We believe that God intends the church to be a place of rich relational connection and support, not merely a well-done weekly service. We can’t make it through life without friends to help take off our socks when our fingers are too tired or offer comfort when we’re crying.
God will use community to help you better face the seemingly impossible challenges in your life. Whatever it may be, it is finite in length and rest will come sometime! But not only that, being in community will help you see and appreciate more of God’s beauty around you in a way that lessens the pain you experience!
As we face the grueling miles ahead, who are your biking buddies?