Burning Muscles and Aching Heart

I had never heard of Ride for Refuge before last year, but bike riding and a chance to raise money for a good cause? Sign me up!

In a fit of over-inflated self-confidence, I signed up for the 30-mile distance, the longest distance I had biked in 13 years.  (I wish these fits were rarer.) Let it be known that at this time, I didn’t even own a bike; I had to borrow one. At first, the miles sped by, lulling me into a false sense of ease. Within one or two miles past halfway, however, I began to feel the first pangs of exhaustion.

I stopped for water just once during those last 15 miles. Stop to rest? NO!  They’d be carrying me back. My helmet felt like a brick tied to my noggin. Finally reaching the last tiny leg of the trip, I stupidly tried shifting to a lower gear while going uphill and the chain tied itself into knots.

There I was a tenth of a mile from the finish and my bike wouldn’t move. I did debate walking back, maybe even bringing the bike with me. After basic chain surgery, I climbed wearily on and pedaled the last two minutes to the finish.

I wish I could say that during the struggle of biking 30 miles I thought about the reason I was out there. What are eight and a half leagues of aching muscles when I can go back to an air-conditioned home while innumerable homeless make their homes on street corners and in slums? While orphans by the tens of thousands are aging out of the system, forced to make their way in a world that has forgotten about them at best, but often abuses and exploits them. I do a long bike ride and reward myself with an ice cream cone. Millions of other women my age have been working as prostitutes for 15+ years and are diseased or dead.

I want to help. I do! Through research, I’m finding that helping the vulnerable is a lot like my bike ride last year. At first, it can be easy to start. Give a few dollars to someone riding or walking for charity. Maybe donate those too-small clothes to a mission. Get on a bike and ride a few miles.

The further I go though, the more this journey against injustice hurts. As I research where justice needs are, the more my heart starts breaking for those at risk and the staggering numbers of the needy.  I can’t help everyone, so it’s easy to just want to stop. Cover ears and eyes and say “ENOUGH! I can’t see any more of this pain and suffering.” It often means adjusting my mentality of what is important in this life.
Even choosing one subsection of downtrodden humanity means sacrificing – money, time, energy.

That’s when I have to look ahead and see the finish line. For me, that time is Christ’s return when He will eradicate injustice and hopelessness in the world.  Until then, I will continue to take the ache and pain as I open myself up to the needs of the unprotected. Climbing back on the bike and pedaling forward.


[This was originally published on the Awana Children at Risk blog.]

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