Chances are, as you read this, I am in the middle of Iowa on my bicycle. Possibly, I’ll be somewhere between Eldora and Cedar Falls.
Wherever I am, I’m having fun!
At the All Saints council meeting before I left, Bonnie Strittmater prayed an awesome prayer about God using me while I ride to evangelize. I’m carrying the wonderful spirit of Bonnie’s prayer and not the exact words, but if I remember right, she literally used the word “evangelism” in her prayer. How fantastic is that!
Here’s what I love about this. It’s putting these two things together. Or even, seeing them as the same inseparable thing that doesn’t even need putting together.
“Fun” and “evangelism.”
Evangelism can be fun.
Having fun with other people can be evangelism.
I went home after Bonnie’s perfect prayer, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were still unpacking their car. They gathered the group I’m riding and camping with, and they drove in early from Salt Lake to visit before it all started. After we hugged and set a table with food to eat and caught up, we went through the RAGBRAI route map, town by town. Part of the fun was imagining the fun we were about to have!
The first and most important recommendation from All Saints recent Comprehensive Ministry Site Review is this.
Do “evangelizing outreach.” Double-down on the efforts already invested. Make the awesome vision a reality.
When you think of this, maybe something happens for you like what happens sometimes when RAGBRAI comes up in conversation. “Oh, it’s so far!” or “Boy, I could never do that!” And, of course–no sane person would suggest rolling out of bed and riding your bike for 500 miles over the next seven days having never before put foot to pedal. In fact, the good experience of others recommends riding twice the distance of RAGBRAI before RAGBRAI. So my goal was 1,000 miles of training. (I got around 900. Not bad.)
But here’s the thing. Human brains do this thing that inclines humans to give up on 1,000 before they even get to 1. The humans can’t really stop this brain thing. Instead, the humans can only notice it and then–with a little more freedom to consider what is important to them–decide what they’re going to do.
Human brains always overestimate difficulty. You and I are already overestimating the discomfort we will experience in putting ourselves out there for Jesus. It’s a survival mechanism.
So what you and I get to do is kick into another level of mechanism. That next level is about thiving in our faith, not just surviving with it. Call it a “thival” mechanism.
The key question there is not, “Will I feel uncomfortable?” (because the answer will always be “Yes”). The key questions for people exercising their thrival mechanism is, “Do I believe in what’s happening at All Saints?” and–with that same sense of “believe in”–“Do I believe in Jesus?”
Do I need to convince you that riding your bike 500 miles is not automatically fun? That’s what the 1,000 miles of training were for. It makes RAGBRAI fun and not a suicide run.
What makes training fun? Well, that’s complicated, but the short answer is, it’s not for everyone, and at the same time, look how beautiful creation is and just imagine what happens to body, mind, and spirit while at your own pace you explore this corner of it by bike. And especially, when you have good company.
How much more, when it comes to Jesus, community in Jesus’ name, meaningful effort for the sake of Jesus’ vision coming to life here and now? That’s not just fun. That’s real, lasting joy.