December 2020 Email Archive – Why Are You Riding So SLOW?!
I Still Can’t Tell This Story Without Laughing.
Maybe you’ll understand why when you hear it…
Why Are You Riding So Slow?
I received several miraculous physical healings from God in spring 2020, which lifted, among other things, a burden of fatigue I had lived with for years. (I talk about the spiritual journey leading up to those healings in my first four books. My blog as a whole explores the before-and-after faith journey, specifically mentioning the healings here and here.)
Shortly thereafter, I set my sights on riding my bike up a certain challenging hill.
I expected that this would require some physical conditioning, but I was excited to have the capacity to even consider it. I set out to do it.
I regularly ascended the hill on my bike, in various gears, pushing as hard as I could in order to build muscle without causing injury.
One day, several months into this, as I was pedaling up the steep hill in a difficult gear, some small children were playing in a yard nearby. As I passed them, a high-pitched young voice yelled out behind me at top volume:
“Why are you riding so SLOW?!”
I laughed so hard. I laughed the rest of the way up the hill, and then back down the hill. I laughed all the way home. As I told my husband the story, I was laughing so hard I could barely get the words out.
Sometimes in life there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. And sometimes we perceive about as much as a little child who calls out to ask why we’re moving so slowly.
But There Was More
That’s the part of the story I could see.
But I found out later there was another reason I was taking that hill so slowly—one that I didn’t know at the time.
Well into fall, a problem with my bike gears prompted me to take the bike to a repair shop. As it turned out, a metal part called a derailleur had been sawn in two—by the bicycle chain grinding against it as I pedaled.
Those two parts aren’t even supposed to touch each other, and it’s not clear exactly how things ended up that way in the first place. But as it turns out, every time I had ridden the bike—probably over a long period of time—I hadn’t just been working against the normal forces. I had also been slowly grinding the chain through a large metal part. (I wish now that I had taken a photo of the damaged part, but an Internet search for front derailleur will show you pictures of what one looks like.)
As it turned out, even though all of the reasons I had thought my ascent up that hill was “so slow” were true, even they weren’t the whole picture.
I had also been working against another opposing force—of which I wasn’t even aware at the time.
Natural & Spiritual Life
I think the bike story is an apt metaphor for Christian life.
You may have been on a difficult climb during 2020 (or for even longer), and it feels—and looks—like you are going so slowly. And you’d like to understand why.
There are things going on in the natural world that are influencing how quickly we are ascending our hills: We can see those things.
But there are also things going on in the spiritual world that are affecting us, even when we don’t see them. We may be making an uphill climb against more than we realize—sometimes against a lot more.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12 HCSB).
Spiritual battle, the Bible teaches, is the reality of things. But the truth is, we were made for victory in this spiritual battle. We have been given the name, Jesus, that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). And here is what Jesus said:
“Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them” (Luke 10:19 NLT).
In this month’s recommended reading and resources, I share some resources for learning how to use that authority. They have helped me, and that I hope you will find them useful, as well.
Recommended Reading and Resources
4 Favorites on Spiritual Warfare — These 4 books are some of my favorites to recommend on the topic of spiritual warfare. Whether you are new to the idea, are seasoned in spiritual battle, or are somewhere in between, I think you’ll find something here that will help you take your hill:
- Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- UpperDogs: Christians Have the Advantage. It’s Time to take It. by Sarah Thiessen and Heather Hughes
- Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority by John Eldredge
- Deliverance from Evil Spirits: A Practical Manual by Francis MacNutt
For my comments on the books above, visit the Recommended Reading page of my website, where they are listed under Spiritual Warfare.
The Twilight Labyrinth: Why Does Spiritual Darkness Linger Where It Does? by George Otis Jr. — I’m reading this now, and finding it extremely helpful. The book examines the elements of territorial spiritual warfare. This would be a good resource for anyone involved in cross-cultural ministry.
Living without Options by Bill Johnson (44:39) — Sometimes in the midst of difficulty, it is easy to focus so much on the battle in front of us, that we need a reminder to take ourselves to the Lord who loves us, to be changed by him. This message was exactly what I needed to hear. Maybe you, too?
Feeding on Scripture
Did you miss any of these recent Scripture reflections on my Instagram and at the amylu-riley.com blog?
You can see all of them at the website:
- They Cut the Stone So the Light Will Shine Through (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 2:5)
- Give Thanks to the Lord (Psalm 136)
- May the Lord Make Your Love Overflow (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
- Let God Transform You Into a New Person (Romans 12:2)
- The Lord Will Provide (2 Corinthians 9:8)
If I had detected the situation with my bicycle chain sooner, I would have acted sooner to remove that resistance—that drag against my progress up the hill.
I think that how we interact with the spiritual realm is a lot like that. Because we have hills to take for the kingdom of God, it’s vital for the Christ-follower to be aware of spiritual reality and of our Christ-given authority to change it in Jesus’ name.
People need to be saved, healed, and delivered. That’s what happens when the kingdom of God comes to them (Matthew 10:7; Luke 10:9).
Jesus said, “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons” (Matthew 10:7-8 NLT).
That’s the good news. That’s what we’re doing here.
I’d love to hear from you. Just hit reply to send me an email.
To your freedom, health, and wholeness,
P.S. My newest book, Faith with Wings, carries a powerful and timely message. It makes a great gift for yourself and others. Order it here.
P.P.S. To make inspirational gift-giving easier, special prices are now in effect on all my books: paperbacks $9.99, ebooks $2.99. Order them here.
Faith with Wings by AmyLu Riley
Faith with Grit for the Not-Yet Healed by AmyLu Riley
Stay: Why I’m Still Here, A Spiritual Memoir by AmyLu Riley
Jesus as Healer by AmyLu Riley