In the Slipstream. Part 1.

THE WORLD OF LYCRA

Last year my generous boyfriend bought me a road bike. At first, I thought I would be using it to cruise a few easy kilometres to the Bay for sunset swims and back again.

I was wrong!

Before I knew it, I was wearing the riding shoes that clip into the pedal (aka cleats), going for 30km+ rides and getting lycra cycling outfits from my family for Christmas!

I was converted, albeit reluctantly at times, and loving it.

One of the best things I have come to learn about road-riding is a technique cyclists call drafting. Drafting happens when a cyclist moves into an area of low pressure behind another cyclist which reduces the wind resistance and the amount of energy required to pedal. Doing this right can reduce the amount of effort you have to put in.  

Here is an image to give you a visual of what happens during drafting…

It can take some practice to learn how to draft someone and get into their slipstream. It took me a while (ahem….six-months) to learn how to draft properly, but once I got the hang of it, it has helped me stay with the fast boys on our rides, go further distances and avoid some of those nasty headwinds that can whip down Melbourne streets.

One day, as I was sitting in a slipstream and enjoying the cruise that comes with it, I started thinking about how drafting is a great metaphor for how God has designed life to be for those of us who believe in Him.

That’s one of the many things I love about God – that we often see His nature through creation and science, if we take the time to look.

THE METAPHOR:

In the same way the cyclist in front of you reduces the wind resistance, helping you to go further as you tap into their strength, God’s intent is for us to stay close to Him [tucked in right behind Him] so He can shield us from headwinds and help us move on the journey with momentum and ease.

Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 11:25-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

As I have considered this metaphor more over time, I continue to find similarities between the nature of a cycling draft and doing life in the slipstream of the Almighty. Allow me to share a few of these similarities over the next few blogs, starting with these two points below…

1. YOU HAVE TO TRUST THE PERSON YOU ARE RIDING BEHIND

One of the biggest challenges for me when I was learning to draft was sitting so closely behind another rider. For drafting to really work you must tuck yourself right in behind their back wheel so you can get into their slipstream and enjoy the benefits and ease that come with it.

However, when you tuck yourself that closely behind someone, it can restrict your line of sight on the road ahead. This means you have to rely on them to lead you and to signal if there’s something bumpy on the road ahead and when it’s time to slow down, stop and speed up.

Similarly, if we’re going to make our way into the slipstream that God makes available to us [i.e. that rest and peace of a life walked with Him], we must first believe in Him and trust Him to lead us, being confident (faith!) that He knows the way and how to get us there.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognise Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way.]” Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP).

When you don’t trust the rider in front of you, you might get into their slipstream for a moment, but you’ll never stay there for long. Instead you’ll end up slipping out of that “sweet spot” and riding purely out of your own effort.

And trust me, when that headwinds comes along (and it always does) you want to be riding with someone who you trust and get yourself into their slipstream!

2. IT TAKES PRACTICE TO FIND THE SLIPSTREAM

Like I said, it took me time to learn how to draft on the road bike. It’s not necessarily something that you can do right away. It takes trust in the rider in front of you and it takes practice learning how to find the slipstream and then remain in it.

Similarly, in our walk with God, we know that He has a plan for us and that when we can stay close to Him and tuck ourselves right in there behind His big, broad shoulders, the journey is so much smoother. It’s just like Proverbs 3:6 (above) and Jeremiah 29:11 (below) say…

“’For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (AMP)

But like the slipstream on a road bike, you need to mindfully work your way into God’s slipstream. It doesn’t just happen. You need to practice and exert conscious effort to find the slipstream and stay in it.

What does this look like for us as believer’s walking with God?

It means that staying close to Him does require some input from us. This includes things like:

  • Believing in Him (faith!) (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Reading and learning what the Bible says and allowing God to speak to us through it (1 John 2:5-6)
  • Keeping His commandments (1 John 2:3-6)
  • Loving others (John 13:34-35)

Any believer who has a close and intimate relationship with God knows what it means to be in His slipstream and enjoy the peace and rest that comes with living life from that sweet spot.

FOR NEXT TIME…

I hope that these early thoughts are an encouragement to you and remind you that we have a mighty and good good God who has made a way for us to live a good life very close to Him.

In the next blog I’m excited to continue with the metaphor and share a few more thoughts with you. Watch this space.

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