There is an old adage in cycling, if you want to be safe ride indoors if you want to have fun ride outside. Riding a bike indoors is without risk. You are guaranteed to escape getting hit by a car, hitting a pothole and laying your bike down, suffering the ridicule that comes with covering yourself in the ridiculously tight brightly colored cycling clothes. Riding indoors allows the rider to experience cycling in a safe environment.
While riding indoors allows one to be safe, riding outdoors on the streets allows the cyclist to fully enjoy what the sport has to offer. The fun of a descent. The smell of fresh cut grass on a lazy summer afternoon. The sound of the wind whistling through your ears. All of this adds to the pure enjoyment of the sport, but it comes with the risks associated with the road. Accidents with inattentive drivers, ridicule from friends for going out in public in spandex, and flat tires are just some of the myriad of risks cyclists face every time they buckle their helmets and begin to pedal. Yet despite this increase in risk if you were to poll cyclists an overwhelming number would prefer to ride on the road than a trainer despite the increase in risk.
At times, we all view our faith like an indoor trainer, preferring to practice our faith only within the safety and confines of our homes, the church, places were it is safe to do so. We sometimes focus only on the negatives of what can happen when we take our faith out onto the road and forget the positives. Christ did not command his disciples to sit in the upper room and discuss what He had taught them amongst themselves. No, He commanded them to go forth and make disciples of all nations. To take the message of God’s love and mercy to those out in the world who need to hear it.
Life on the streets is not easy, they aren’t called the mean streets for nothing, but through a trust in God we can take the message out into the world as He commanded. It can start innocently enough, correcting a misconception of the faith there, offering a glimpse of the Truth here. These seemingly simple acts can lead to deeper love and understanding of the Catholic Faith. Friendships can be strengthened, new friendships formed and the flame of faith can burn brighter from within.
Despite all the beauty on the road, there are going to be flat tires and accidents. Friends are not going to always understand a particular teaching of the Church no matter how much you explain it to them and there are going to be those who will ridicule you for what you believe. When faced with these difficult situations, focus on what God has entrusted to you rather than what has been taken. Know that God will never give you more than you can handle and if He does recall what the Prayer of St. Francis de Sales states “when you cannot stand it, God will bury you in his arms.” No matter the situation God will always be with you.
Life on the road is inherently dangerous and yet incredibly beautiful. Do not let your fear of the unknown prevent you from taking your faith out of the confines of the Church. Take your faith to work, to the coffee shop, to the grocery store and you will be amazed at what will happen. You will discover a deeper love of God and broadening of your faith. The mean streets aren’t so mean when God goes with you. Who knows maybe one day you will find yourself stepping out of your front door covered head to toe in brightly covered spandex ready to spread the message of God, well may not wearing spandex best leave that to the crazy cyclists, but ready to spread the message of God nonetheless.