Yesterday, I went for a bike ride from my home in Woodinville to my church in Redmond via the Lake Samammish River Trail. It's a route I take regularly, but this time was a little different in two ways.
First, on my journey to the church, I passed some familiar Team Fastt faces, and it was great to see them out! I came up behind two people running, and recognized them immediately (especially with the Lake Stevens Half-Ironman shirt). As I passed, I said "Is that Nikki and Stacey?!" They said hi, and we cheered each other on like we were still in the half-ironman race :) It made my day. I also saw Gordon pass by me going in the opposite direction on his bike. I think he was too focused to notice me, but I was glad to see him.
All of this made me realize that encouragement during routine workouts and training is just as important as--if not more so than--encouragement during a race. In a race, we have myriad fans, endorphins, and the race excitement working in our favor. It's often the dirty work of training where we need the most support. Discipline is not easy.
And speaking of dirty work.... On my journey back home, after working diligently to prepare for Vacation Bible School, I came across some trash that was scattered all over the grass along part of the trail. I passed by it, and thought to myself, "Someone really ought to clean that up." The farther I got from the trash, the more I realized that that "someone" really ought to be me. It's a lot like the parable of the Good Samaritan, when the "religious folk" passed by an injured man on the side of the road--it was a Samaritan (an outcast) that actually stopped to help the injured man. So, after wrestling with my thoughts and pride, I turned my bike around to go pick up the trash. It was a bunch of beer bottles, plates, forks, napkins, etc., and it was pretty gross.
There was a couple sitting nearby that came over to help me. They commented that they wouldn't have done anything had I not stopped to clean it up. So sometimes when our paths come across something unpleasant, God might be calling us to be the ones to do the dirty work. Perhaps, no matter how futile it might seem, we'll encourage another person in the process.
That was my ordinary ride for the day.