Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Theme Song

A few years ago a friend gave me a CD entitled "The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan." Most of the songs on the CD were composed in the early 1980's. Many of them are great. On this CD, they're all performed by African American singers and Gospel Choirs. Mary and I were both drawn to one particular song, Pressing On, sung by Chicago Mass Choir.

The song describes life's journey as a Christian when encountering resistant skeptics of the Gospel's good news and the temptation to quit being a Christian witness. The chorus proclaims the singer's response to these burdens: "Well I'm pressing on. Yes I'm pressing. Well I'm pressing on to the higher calling of my Lord." Bob Dylan's imagery suggests this is a journey filled with challenges. In the face of these challenges, rather than being diverted or quiting, the singer believes and experiences a higher calling. Even in adversity, there is hope and the ultimate achievement of a goal.

Although a transcontinental bike ride is a different challenge, Pressing On has become the theme song for the tour. Biking can be a physical resistance to which the options are to quit or to press on. Like every bicyclist, all too often I've known the triple resistance of heat, hills and head winds that can build to a temptation to quit. I've stood at the bottom of a hill, with cramps in my legs, wondering how I will proceed. I've bonked more times than I care to admit.

Bicycling can also be the crucible in which other emotional and spiritual struggles are resolved. At least this has been true for me. One year, I experienced a tragedy that knocked me down for months. I was flat, even depressed. Life was grey for many months. Eventually, it became familiar and I no longer noticed it. I went completed the entire spring training season numb, empty and going through the motions. I wanted to quit. Unfortunately, I had to press on because I was committed to riding on the Register's Annual Great Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). I was going to ride on tandems with my 14 year old daughter, my best friend and one of his sons. RAGBRAI is a seven day ride across Iowa with over 10,000 other bicyclists. I had ridden it before. It had been great fun. Knowing this didn't help. Considering the ride felt overwhelming. I decided the only option was to press on. And then it all changed. Halfway into the first day's ride, I became aware of a surprising emotion, joy. I remember and love that day. My daughter and my friends son were laughing and singing on the back of the tandems. We were coasting down a small hill with the sun behind us and beautiful corn fields on both sides. You could smell the corn. Somehow enduring the internal resistance, discouragement and temptation to quite was rewarded with a tangible blessing. This doesn't always happen for me, but it did this time. I knew and I know I was blessed.

Will I be physically challenged on this tour? Absolutely. Will I be emotionally and spiritually challenged? Probably. I think I'm finally becoming a wiser and more mature bicyclist and person and this should help. My goals are to be physically fit but also emotionally and spiritually prepared. The training seems to be going well. My prayer is that when I encounter adversities I will be able to be "Pressing on to the higher calling of my Lord."

"...One thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the gaol to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward..." Philippians 3:13,14

1 comment:

dylandevotional said...