During this season of Lent, we should all be reminded that all of us need a little help from time to time. We tend to be such rugged individualists that we prefer NOT to allow others the chance to help us when we need it. “How are you?” someone will ask after I’ve had major surgery or after the death of someone close to me. “Oh, fine. I’m doing just fine.” Maybe I am—and maybe I’m really not. But I and many like me prefer not to open the door for another to help.
I have a dear old friend who lives in Atlanta. He and I played tennis together in college and he is a splendid guy. He also has had a very interesting and successful career—a career that has brought him into close contact with lots of very high-profile athletes.
Among the athletes with whom he has been connected is the Olympic Cycling Team. Now my friend has always been a very good athlete in his own right and in his more “mature” years, he became a cyclist—and a very good one.
Long story short, several members of that Olympic Cycling Team made their way into Atlanta and my friend suggested they all ride up Stone Mountain. This would be a strenuous ride even for cycling professionals, much less the average Joe.
So off they went. They made their way to the foot of that large, domed piece of granite and began their ascent. My friend told me that at first he was holding his own with these highly-trained pros. Then at about the two-thirds mark, he told me that he could feel himself starting to fade and was worried that he would hold the others up. Trying to summon the fortitude to keep up, he said the strangest thing happened—“I found myself with a sudden burst of energy and much more comfortable at that stage of the ride.” Feeling very proud of himself, he then said, “I glanced back over my shoulder to find that one of these pros had slipped in behind me, placed his hand on the back of my saddle, and was helping to actually push me up the mountain.”
He had a good laugh about it as they all did.
Sometimes we all can use a little push.
Maybe that’s one of the functions of prayer and fasting. The notion of getting just a little push with our spiritual lives to help us reach the mountain top. Maybe.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.