The Mona Lisa Of Pain

It has been a couple years since I have been on my bicycle for a long distance ride. At one time I could ride up to 50 miles and I was in the best shape of my middle-aged life. The strange thing about getting old is that you have never done it before, so you don’t know what to expect from your body as you get older.

On one of my last rides, I was invited by another cyclist to go on a 20 mile trip. The weather was cooperating that day, and it would have been the perfect distance to get started for another riding season. However, it was my schedule that was not cooperating. I told my friend I would have to pass on his invitation, but to call me the next time he could ride. I sat at my desk visualizing my friend having a great time and starting to get into shape while I was adding to my “Winter Coat” with snacks and foods that I wouldn’t eat while training for any future Olympic possibilities. I decided to act!

After work I went to a local gym to burn some calories and shake off the rust of the winter. I selected a stationary bike to begin my return to middle-age glory. As I sat upon the exercise machine, I had to select the resistance the bike would have as I peddled it. My mind, without consulting with my body, selected the highest and hardest resistance the machine could muster. I didn’t completely ignore my body, since my mind was watching for signs of chest pains, or numbness in one or both of my arms. Nothing happened! After about 25 minutes I got off the machine  and was ready to tackle something else. It was at that time my cell phone rang and I was told one of my church members had been taken to the emergency room. That was the end of the work-out. I jumped in my car, intending to go home, take a quick shower, and race to the hospital.

Yes, that was my plan. Everything was going fine until I arrived home and was about to take a shower. As I began to take off my sweat shirt, I thought someone had snuck up behind me and pulled my spinal cord out of my body. I’m not a stranger to pain, but this pain was the “Mona Lisa” of pain! It was the kind of pain you read about in a medical journal or see on television when someone is being tortured for the names of spies or the location of the enemy’s headquarters. After realizing that death was not imminent, I did what many people do in this situation, I thought about whom to blame for my pain! Don’t laugh; most people do the exact same thing! If you burn your tongue while drinking coffee, you blame the machine for making it too hot, or you feel the creamer wasn’t cold enough to cool it off. If you are driving your car and the person in front of you comes to a sudden stop and you almost hit him, you blame the person in front of you. You rarely consider that you might be following too close or not paying attention to the road! See my point?

Taking personal responsibility is a big part of growing up. Even in the Christian faith, taking responsibility for our walk with Christ is a sign of maturity. We really can’t blame difficult people or difficult circumstances for our lack of faithfulness to Christ. If we hope to be strong Christian leaders, we must endure tough times and continue to increase in faith.

Remember, it’s his way and your day. Make the most of it!


Vince Hefner

Vince Hefner

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