Spring and preparing for the harvest.

I love this time of year. This past winter has been cool and wet enough that it was hard to get enthused about riding my bike enough to stay in shape. Winter is a time of tarped boats and occasional rides. When I lived in Alaska it was a time to ski and ice climb. This part of North Carolina is too cold for summer sports and too warm for winter sports. So, winter is a time to rest a bit and recharge. Then comes spring. When I commercial fished in Alaska spring was filled with cleaning and rigging the boat, checking and tying new gear, and counting down the days until the king salmon showed up in numbers. Spring was a time of anticipation, and preparation.

We need times of refreshing. Ecclesiastes 3 declares there is a season for everything. There are times for sabbaticals, but a never ending sabbatical is called laziness. I have found it hard to shift from resting  to activity. After sitting in neutral it is just hard for me to shift back into high gear. You may have the same problem. If so, then perhaps, the following motivational tools I use could benefit you.

Set a goal with a “price”. During the winter I ride a couple of times a week if the weather is good. It is hard to shift into a daily ride mode,  which I desperately need to shed my winter weight gain. In January I register (and pay) to participate in a major ride. Usually I ride a century (100 miles in one day) at the end of April. This year I am riding a 75 mile ride from Emerald Isle to Harker’s Island and back. These rides are fun, but require preparation. I know it will be agony to ride the mileage if I have not prepared, and I won’t back out because I paid to enter. I have a ten week training program which adds mileage each week. At the end of February my lazy side does not want to go for a ride, but I know the “price” of not going. I have a goal with a timeline that will not change. On May 5 I will either enjoy a great ride with a friend, or I will suffer for five hours, or forfeit the fee.

Find a partner. Last spring my middle son committed to riding a century with me the end of April. He was living in Macon so we could not train together, but we would often compare training rides using a smartphone app. This year a former colleague, John, approached me about “Ride the Bank.” John and I were professors together a few years ago. At that time neither of us rode. Since then John began doing triathlons and I started riding centuries. John wanted to try his hand at longer rides (he is used to 18-20 milers), and had heard I was riding. So John and I meet two or three times a week to train together. We have busy schedules so we can’t ride everyday at the same time. We are riding on our own, but the common training sessions help us stay accountable. For a couple of old guys we are doing pretty good.

Related to both of the above is the motivation of making it public. Before my first long ride I made sure my family knew, so I could not back out. (It was nice to hear the grand-kids express their pride when I completed it.) Recently, I used this tool in my small group. For several years I have done little scripture memorization work. In the past I memorized Colossians and Titus, but then stopped. I took a sabbatical from memorizing new material. It was comfortable just repeating those books on a regular basis. Some days I would not quote any scriptures. Last month, two of our small group members talked about the book of James. Their comments were not about memorization, just about how James blessed them. I was convicted that I could have memorized the book if I had not taken a “sabbatical” from memorization. Actually, sabbatical is just a term to make me feel better. I had become lazy in regards to committing God’s word to memory. I was satisfied with maintaining the status quo. That night I made a public commitment to memorize James. Now, I am making a commitment to  not stop with James. The days I start to skip my memory work I think of my small group members and my commitment to them.

I enjoy cycling. There is a sense of accomplishment when I finish a hard ride. I started riding as a means of exercising. I cannot stand working out in a gym or running. Riding a bike is like being a kid again. I determined that I want to be active when I am in my eighties. I also realized for that to happen, I could not wait until I am eighty to begin exercising. I am investing now for a goal years away. In the same fashion, I want to be a godly man who knows God’s word. I have always admired those elderly saints that exude God’s love and have His word hidden in their hearts. That will not take place unless I prepare now.

God rested on the seventh day to demonstrate our need for rest. God did not create everything in one day, though He could have, and then take six days of rest. We will have times that we need to take a break, but then we need to return to work. Jesus looked upon the multitude and encouraged his disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest. (Matt 9:37-38)  Winter is over. Spring is here. Summer is coming, and then the harvest. Will we be ready? Set the goal. Pay a price. Make it public. Find that yoke fellow who will challenge you and hold you accountable. Everything we invest now will come back as a blessing when we stand before the Lord of the Harvest. The fields are white unto harvest.

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