One of my favorite areas to ride is around the Chattahoochee Hill Country in South Fulton County, Georgia. Most regulars call it Silk Sheets. Cyclists come from all over Atlanta to enjoy this popular cycling destination. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, there are the silky smooth roads and the rolling hills – miles and miles of them. You could ride all day and not cover all the roads that twist, rise and fall across the area. You could ride a different route every day for a month (something very important to many cyclists). There is very little traffic around Chattahoochee Hill Country. The few vehicles that you may encounter are courteous and careful. They are good about sharing the road.

Then there are the dogs – or the lack thereof. The few I have seen hardly give me a second look. Perhaps they are just tired from chasing others, they are bored with the pursuit, or they just don’t see much challenge in running down this slow cyclist. Whatever the reason, it is wonderful!

It also occurs to me that many people come to Silk Sheets because there are so many people that come to Silk Sheets. They enjoy the community feel. Even those like me – that ride alone – feel a connection with the passing cyclists that wave and say good morning, or afternoon.

Yes, there are many reasons for taking the time to travel to South Fulton County for a bike ride. There is one other – the best one by far (at least to me). The thing I enjoy most about Silk Sheets is the scenery. Chattahoochee Hill Country is the most beautiful place I have ever ridden my bike. And that brings me to the latest lesson I learned while riding.

The Lesson

On my most recent Silk Sheets ride, I felt the Lord encouraging me to enjoy the ride – more than usual, I assumed. So, I did. But, let me tell you, it was more difficult than I imagined.

You see, I ride to exercise; and I only have so much time to ride. I am not the most naturally gifted cyclist, so riding to exercise generally means focusing on the road immediately ahead of me, concentrating on my form, and making sure I am in the right gear for the terrain. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not in a race, nor training for one.

On this particular ride, I had to add “enjoy the ride” to my self-talk. About the third or fourth time, it hit me: This is a perfect analogy for the way many Christians live and minister in the Marketplace. We are so focused on our form and performance that we fail to enjoy the journey. Even when God says, “Chill out and enjoy the ride”, we find it hard to do so for very long.

Upon further reflection, it occurs to me that God gives us all things to enjoy; that even in the trials of life, we are to find His joy. The fruit of the Holy Spirit includes joy, so we don’t have to find it or work it up. It is there for our appropriation. We need to learn and practice laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of us. We need more of God’s grace for joy.

It seems to me that joy is a choice and a mindset. When I chose to enjoy my ride, it changed my focus – from me, to what God had given me to enjoy (in this case, my beautiful surroundings). As I persisted in my choosing, my mind “relaxed”, and a renewing began to happen. I discovered that joy can be a very powerful thing. Why? Because God was more a part of what I was doing.

Practicing joy in the simple act of riding a bicycle has helped transform me by the renewing of my mind. Only time will tell, but I believe it has prepared me for joy in more stress-filled situations. So, let me encourage you to find joy in your next ride, run, walk or workout. May it prepare you for more joy in your kingdom adventures.

Your servant and His forever,