Friday, July 13, 2012

The Right Gear: A Lesson from My Bike

I recently bought a new bicycle and made an amazing discovery: The right gears make a world of difference! My old bike had gears, but only two of them worked. One gear got me off and the next gear kept me going. But it required a lot of huffing and puffing, and I was developing some serious quad muscles. My new bike, with its twenty-four gears, has not only made biking a pleasure, but it has also freed up some of that huffing-puffing time for thinking. One of those thoughts: Life—just like bike riding—requires us to shift gears from time to time to get the most from it. 

Low Gears 

The low gears are designed for starting out and climbing. They get us smoothly into our ride and give us extra oomph for inclines. In life, there are the times we need to operate in the low gears. As the day begins, prayer, meditation, and/or scripture reading can give us the boost and encouragement needed to get through the day. Same with climbing.  Challenges in life require extra help. They call for us to shift into the very lowest gear and rely on help from a higher source. Life’s low gears don’t relieve us from all the hard pedaling. But as we plug along—breathing heavily, sweating, grunting, maybe even complaining—we know we’re not doing all the work alone. And we know we won’t be climbing forever.  

Middle Gears 

Unless we’re in training for a bike-a-thon or a hotter-than-hell trek across Iowa, we’ll do the bulk of our riding using the middle gears. These gears are best suited for level sections of the road. Here, the bike and rider share the work, but it is fairly easy, and the ride is smooth. We have time to look around, take in the sights, enjoy the cool air on our faces. Hopefully, we can spend most of our lives in middle gear where we enjoy our work and problems are minimal and manageable. These are good times for reflection and for giving thanks for the gifts of contentment and everyday pleasures. 

High Gears 

Traveling in high gear is exciting. Zipping along at top speed, we’re exhilarated. We might be flirting with danger, but that’s part of the thrill. We’re going somewhere, and we’re going there fast. We experience those same moments in life. They’re fun. They give us a chance to test ourselves, stretch our comfort zones, see what we can do. But as fun as those times are, they never last. And would we  want them to? Could we keep up that pace forever? Would we enjoy it as much if we did? Often when we’re in those situations of complete bliss, we suddenly find ourselves sailing along a little faster than intended. We suspect we might be losing control and we panic. Those are the times to gently apply the brakes, to slow down and take inventory of what needs to be done. To ask ourselves what adjustments need to be made?

Sometimes merely slowing down isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to press hard on the brakes. Come to a complete stop in order to avoid disaster. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God!” Be still. Hmmm. Maybe sometimes the best gear in life is none at all.    

My shiny, new wheels. Now, if someone would invent
a helmet that didn't make me look like an insect on an
Orkin commercial, my riding pleasure would be complete!


  1. That verse never really hit home to me until I read this Caring Bridge journal post:

    Now it is one of my favorites.

    1. Nicci, I went to that link. I'm interested in finding out more about that young woman. What a source of inspiration!

  2. "Be still...." So true! This verse has "jumped out" at me during several pivotal times in my life. It's probably the one my mother quotes to me the most. In fact, she said, "Have you read Dee Dee's blog?"

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    2. Thank you, Brandi. I appreciate you and Martha reading my post. A few years ago I read a YA book in which a young girl was instructing a boy on how to meditate. She told him to take this verse and repeat just the words "Be still" over and over for several days. Then she told him to add the words "and know" and do the same thing. Finally, he was to end by adding "that I am God." I thought that was an excellent to really clue in on the message.


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