I used to ride my bike a lot. And not just casually. I had the whole get-up, skin-tight spandex, fancy socks, a good road bike. One time I even rode my bike from Seattle to New York City (I’d recommend bringing some pillows to duct tape to your bike seat). But then I stopped riding. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I just got busy. I became less inspired. I didn’t have people to ride with. I didn’t want to wake up early. I didn’t have the time.
Then last fall, around September, I decided to go riding again with a friend. But of course, I had to get a flat tire. I didn’t even have any spare tubes on me so I had to get picked up by a friend. Then for the next 8 months, I thought about going cycling again. I really wanted to cycle. I knew in my mind that it would be good for my physical and mental health. But I never went. Not once. Why not? I didn’t have a tube! My bike sat with a flat tire in my garage for 8 months. Here's the worst part. I literally live 0.5 miles away from a bike shop. It would have taken a total of 15 minutes and $7 to go to the bike shop and buy a tube for my tire, which would have enabled me to ride again.
I wish I could say that I finally had the willpower on my own to get off my you know what and buy a tube for my bike. I’m embarrassed to say that I did not. The impetus for getting back on the saddle came from my roommate, who happens to also be named Kyle. One day back in May, Kyle casually told me that he was heading to the bike shop and asked if I needed anything. I nearly screamed, “YES! I NEED A TUBE!” That day changed everything.
The first ride back was a bit uncomfortable, but the more and more I pedaled away, the more enjoyable it became. Soon enough I was back in the flow.
So why do I tell you this? Well, I think most of us have found ourselves in a similar rhythm when it comes to following Jesus. If you’ve been following Jesus for a while, you probably know what it’s like to experience the closeness and intimacy of being in loving union with Christ. But you also likely know what it’s like to be in a dry season. Like me with cycling, it usually isn’t a conscious decision. It’s all the same things though. We get busy. We become less inspired. We don’t have the “right” community to do life with. We don’t have enough hours in the day. Or we just blame it on a pandemic and convince ourselves that we'll get back to it when things "go back to normal." You know the drill.
So what’s the turning point? Well, for me with cycling, the critical point was when my roommate asked me, “Do you need anything?” And beyond just being asked that question, I responded by being honest about what I needed. I was honest about what I was lacking (a tube) and I allowed myself to receive help from him.
I listened to a podcast recently where the speaker proposed a really practical idea for how to overcome this type of hurdle of being out of rhythm with Jesus. He said to try asking a friend this question: “What do you do to cultivate your life with Jesus?” I immediately liked the phrasing of the question, but it also made me pause because I knew that it is a hard question for me to ask sometimes.
Two reasons for not asking that question came to mind. One is that sometimes I don’t want to ask someone else that question because deep in my heart, I know that I am not doing much to cultivate my own life with Jesus. And a second reason is that I can wrongly assume that the other person might not have a “good” answer to that question. So as a way of saving face, I don’t ask. Obviously those are not good reasons. But I share them because I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience.
But imagine this for a moment. Imagine a community where people could ask each other that question, “What do you do to cultivate your life with Jesus?” and a perfectly acceptable response is, "honestly, not much right now." Imagine what that kind of honesty and vulnerability could lead to. All of a sudden, the door is opened to ask all sorts of follow-up questions. "What do you need to cultivate your life with Jesus?" "What sort of spiritual disciplines have worked for you in the past?" "What questions do you have for God?" "Why do you think it's hard to read scripture?" "How would you like to grow in your prayer life?"
Put simply, when we pretend to be further along than we actually are in our spiritual journeys, we usually get stuck. But when we get honest about where we're at and what we need, we end up growing. Not only do we grow but we also make space for the Holy Spirit to do His deep work of renewal in our lives.
Perhaps you've been waiting for a "nudge" from the Holy Spirit to get you back on the saddle of cultivating your life with Christ. This might just be that nudge. Or perhaps you know that there is someone in your life that needs to be asked one of these questions. If it feels awkward for you, I get it. I'm right there with you. But I encourage you to press through that and remember that God loves when his children bring their honest, full, real, and raw selves to Him. Remember, there aren't any pre-requisites for coming to the Father.