Lessons In Pressing On From A Record Breaking Cyclist

86,573 miles… in a year… on a bicycle. Most of us don’t drive our cars that far in 5 years, but Amanda Coker really did pedal a bike for that many miles in the span of 365 days. In doing so she shattered the world record by over 10,000 miles! I have first-hand knowledge because the 7-mile loop where she rides is in a park next to the neighborhood where I live and I usually ride with her several times a week. Of course, I can’t ride nearly the distance she does each day and often find myself in amazement that she will continue going for another 200 miles after I finish my usual 20-40 miles. She is an amazing athlete. (You can read more about her inspiring story at http://www.bicycling.com/rides/records/is-amanda-coker-for-real)

Having gotten to know Amanda over the last year, several aspects of her record-breaking quest have left an impression on me. First, her amazing drive to accomplish her goals is fueled by some very difficult days in her past. While on a bike ride in 2011 she and her dad were struck by a car, leaving both of them seriously injured. Amanda would spend much of the next 2 years sitting in a recliner as she recovered. So, while most of us would find the idea of spending all day pedaling a bike arduous and dull, she is excited for the opportunity to do what she loves. She knows what it feels like to be broken (literally), so why not enjoy each day of health?

Then there’s the idea of achieving what at first would seem an impossible goal. When Amanda started, she knew that she would need to average 206 miles a day to break the world record. She averaged 237 miles a day! She spent 13+ hours each day on her bike, riding the same 7-mile loop over and over again. You and I could think of all kinds of reasons to do anything else, to quit after the first day. It’s too hard, too far, too monotonous. But Amanda kept going. She knew that each difficult day conquered brought her one day closer to her goal.

Finally, there’s the team work that was necessary for Amanda to succeed. There’s her mom who kept her stocked with plenty of food and encouraging words. There’s her dad who served as mechanic and also ferried supplies to Amanda throughout each day. Then there are the numerous cyclists who dropped in at all times to ride for a little while each day, shielding her from both the wind and loneliness. Finally, there’s the well-wishers from across the world who followed her progress online throughout the year and offered words of praise and encouragement. None spared Amanda from a single pedal stroke, but she would never have achieved her goal without their help.

How will you and I achieve what would seem to be an impossible goal, the goal of “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.14), of becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2Peter 1.4)? We do so by remembering what we once were and finding motivation to press on each day. We were once dead, but God has given us life… true life in His image (Ephesians 2.1-10; 4.20-24). We all know what it feels like to be broken, so let’s rejoice in each day of life aiming to be more like Him. Anything less is to have forgotten that God purified us from our sins (2Peter 1.9). Second, we press on EVERY day, knowing that one day conquered has brought us closer to what we desire most: “to attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3.11). Finally, we press on together, offering constant encouragement to each other (Hebrews 10.24-25), praying for each other (James 5.16) and bearing each other’s loads when they are too heavy to shoulder alone (Galatians 6.1-2). While none of us can “walk” for another, none of us will complete our walk without each other.

Amanda achieved her goal, and she is now recognized as a world record holder. She deserves all the credit and praise that come with such an accomplishment. And this is where our illustration ends. For while we will receive commendation from our Lord when the goal of heaven is finally reached, we will not be the ones deserving of all credit and praise. That will belong to the Lord who has enabled us to overcome (cf. Revelation 5.11-13). So, we will spend eternity praising Him for what He accomplished in us!

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