Many of you that know me personally or that follow me on social media know that I’m an avid cyclist. I try to get a minimum of 80-100 miles a week in and 40+ mile rides on Saturday morning can be quite common for me. I have my good years and my not so good years but, for all intensive purposes, I’ve been able to be consistent. I logged close to 4,000 miles in 2020 and hope to far exceed that for 2021.
Cycling is definitely one of those things where you get out of it proportionately to what you put into it. Getting into peak cycling shape is downright hard too. It takes a lot of work and perseverance and you can lose it very quickly. Even a couple of weeks off the saddle and you’ll notice a profound difference the next time you’re out. When you are first starting the long road back into good cycling shape, there will be times where you may just feel the world spinning and want to pull over and vomit from over exertion. I’ve been there; actually, several times. And, it’s not fun! However, when you finally do get yourself back into great shape and can go out on a 50-mile ride, push yourself to new levels while having fun in the process, well, that’s when it really starts getting fun. The feeling is somewhat hard to explain. For those of you that have trained for any sort of endurance sport, you know that when you finally push past the pain, it actually can get quite enjoyable.
When I’m out on the road, I pay careful attention to key metrics such as, the cadence of my pedaling stroke, my heartrate zone and the wattage that I’m producing at the pedal. These are actually better performance indicators than that of my actual speed. If I’m wanting to maintain a cadence of 90rpm and I hit a hill and my cadence drastically slows, it’s time to shift into a lower gear and get it back up to 90rpm. I’m not typically concerned with my speed at this time. If I’m training within a certain heart rate range, the same principle would apply.
One of the ways I am really able to track my progress and, my overall fitness level is that of my recovery rate. When I’ve just reached the apex of a significant hill climb, how quickly my heart rate returns to normal is the measure of my overall fitness. I pay very close attention to this. You can’t fake peak fitness; you either have it or you don’t.
Every Tuesday night, Linda and I host a Bible study in our office. We’ve spent time studying the miracles of Jesus to many other topics now, and, it’s been pretty extraordinary. We talk about all the supporting cast members that are involved in each story and what they were doing or what they must have been feeling. The different human emotions at play. When you immerse yourself into the experience, it makes it come alive in very authentic and refreshing way. Different people have very different ideas and it opens up my mind to different perspectives as to how the situation might have actually played out. Even though I’ve read through many of these stories countless times, the insights I’ve gained from this study and this group of people has been truly awesome.
Recently, the topic of spiritual fitness came up in the course of our conversation one Tuesday evening and I found my mind wandering to how I gauge my own physical fitness; through that of my recovery rate. Once again, my recovery rate is directly proportional to what I’m putting into the process. I mentioned this to my son Luke, one morning over breakfast. As we discussed the topic, the question I asked him was, if we never saw each other, or maybe just once or twice per year, would we know each other? The answer of course is, yes we would know each other but we wouldn’t “know” each other at a personal level. We would be acquaintances only. We wouldn’t know what was going on in each other’s lives or what we were excited about or sad about. We wouldn’t be privy to the struggles of life or conversely, its victories. I think many people’s relationship with God might be summed up in this way if they were to be honest. They know him, but they don’t “know” him intimately and that’s because they spend very little actual time with him.
Just as I can gauge my physical fitness level by that of my recovery rate after I’ve climbed to the apex of a hill, I can gauge my spiritual fitness by that of my recovery rate to how I respond to certain everyday situations. Let me explain.
Recently, while driving to the office one morning, someone abruptly cut me off. As I felt my temperature climbing and anger rearing its ugly head, my mind settled back to reality and I regained control of the situation. My thoughts shifted to, “maybe they’re late for work” or “maybe they’re dealing with a tragedy.” Whether that was even true didn’t even matter in that moment. What mattered, was how I responded while in the midst of that moment. In retrospect, it occurred to me that this was a perfect example of my spiritual recovery rate and, my overall spiritual fitness. In times past, I would have handled that situation considerably different. I won’t go into it but I’m sure you can use your imaginations. 🙂 I’m still a huge work in progress but improvements are certainly noticeable and I’ll take that as a win; at least for now. As mentioned a few times earlier too, it’s been directly proportional to what level of training I’ve done. This time though, my training is time spent in His Word and in Prayer (James 4:8). That’s the only way you can truly get to know Him; by spending time with Him. And, I’m thankful that he cares enough to meet with me each morning.