When You Have Nothing, You Learn You Have Everything
My buddy and I recently returned from a seven day bike tour. We started in Savannah, GA and ended in Palm Beach Gardens, FLA. The experience was truly incredible. We saw a lot of great things and met even greater people. We also overcame many trials and tribulations. We had to sleep in the back of a church one evening. However, once we arrived at our final destination we had a non-spoken, mutual understanding of the goal we had accomplished. Despite the physical accomplishment, there was something much more special that I had learned. This was an understanding that when you have nothing, you realize you actually have everything.
Bike touring strips you of many luxuries we take for granted. Some of these include, electricity, a bed, family, cell phone, money, email, computer, Instagram, soap, and clean clothes, to name a few. You truly are living like a nomad. You can only bring items you can fit on your bike. Most of the time you aren’t exactly sure where you are sleeping until a few hours before the sun goes down. It’s very possible that you may be pitching a tent in a random clearing in the woods or knocking on a church door hoping they will show some mercy. As I type this paragraph I am getting a sense that this may sound extremely unappealing. However, these experiences have been anything, but that.
The one thing that I don’t have to leave behind on a tour is my faith in the living God. In fact, it’s the only necessity. Without the distractions of modern day comforts, I am forced to rely on my faith for basic needs. We can become too independent and self reliant with all the amenities around us on a daily basis. This is contradictory to how we should be living . According to God’s word, we are to be completely dependent on him. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …” (Matthew 6: 25-34 ESV). When we rely strictly on ourselves, we are demonstrating that we don’t need God.
On these bike tours, I am allowing my well being to completely rest in the hands of God, and guess what? I have never been failed. On this last trip my buddy and I went through a stretch of Georgia that had no campgrounds or places to rest overnight. We prayed about this dilemma in the morning and started our day. Although this is something I should have worried about all day, I was overridden with peace and joy. There was no concern at all. That night we met a pastor who allowed us to spend the evening on the church property. He fed us, spoke about Jesus, and shared some of his story with us. This truly was a blessing from God. There are many other instances where faith has prevailed on these trips, but those stories are for a later time.
Each time I embark on a bike tour I am reminded about the shallowness of our modern day comforts. They can only do so much. Fortunately, we can do everything through Jesus. Sometimes we must experience true worldly nothingness to discover we already have everything……. through our living God!
Written by Matt Ryan for Bike and Brain