I met a wonderful man today. Well, the truth is that I’ve kind of known of this man for a while because he is a fellow parishioner, but today I got to know him a bit more and he touched my life in a small, yet meaningful way. For reasons of circumstance, we had an opportunity to connect on a personal level and I was nourished by it. As men from different generations and completely separate stages in life, there is no obvious reason why the two of us might connect, but I think we found a simple, yet valuable intersection of our lives. It’s not as if we are now best friends, but our lives crossed, rather than just passed by each other and he touched my life. I hope that I might have done the same for him.
I have a busy life, but who doesn’t? I think I sometimes get caught up in my busy life and don’t always take time to recognize and accept the goodness that is all around me. What am I rushing towards? It better be heaven, right? Well, I can’t get there on my own. My obvious way to heaven is through Jesus and I know He is there for me, but I think I’m probably missing a lot of the help He is presenting out there for me. I have the support of an incredible wife, wonderful family, caring friends, and a loving Church. God has blessed me with all of those things and I see them. However, simple moments like today remind me that He has laid out more for me, and that I occasionally have to slow down to recognize and benefit from those things.
After my interaction today, I got to thinking about all that I might be missing on my ride through life. Maybe it’s a bit hokey, but I thought of my race through life as if it were a bike race (probably because I used to love cycling and sometimes wish I still had time for it). I recognize that Jesus is my bike. Without Him, the race doesn’t exist. I have to keep pedaling, but it is He who will carry me to the finish line. (Yes, bikes break down, but Jesus is an indestructible bike – stick with me here.) My friends and family are my teammates. We draft off of one another and strategize together to maximize our abilities. We use our strengths to help each other and get assistance with our weaknesses and when we struggle. If I break away and try to do it on my own, I tire quickly and eventually fall back into their support. I can’t do it alone, I need them.
So how does this man I met today fit into the race? That man is the race volunteer who is along the route handing out full bottles of water, bananas, and protein bars. I don’t have enough pockets in my shirt or water bottles on my bike to carry all of the nourishment that I need on this race. Sure I can get some from my teammates, but we need outside support or else we will all bonk before the finish line. The thing is, I can’t zip past that volunteer at 25 miles per hour and get what I need; our handoff won’t be successful and I’ll never get what he is offering to me. In order for our transaction to be successful, I need to slow down and focus on grasping what he is extending out to me. I don’t have to come to a complete stop to accept his offering, but I do need to actively receive it. Also, if I just zip on by because I’m feeling fine then maybe I’ll regret it a few miles down the road when fatigue or that muscle cramp hits me.
Today, I also realized that I must be that race volunteer more frequently. It’s great to be surrounded by friends and family and support them as we ride together, but I don’t think God put me here just to ride my own race. I do need to take time from my own race to offer necessary support to others. Whether it be a complete stranger or an acquaintance with whom I’ve never really shared a personal moment, I should recognize that they are also in a race and that I have the ability to assist them. A smile, a genuine greeting, a helping hand, or a 5-minute conversation could be real nourishment for anyone. I’ll probably never know the difference my aid provides, but I do know that similar assistance often helps to get me over the next hill or to the next water station.