Two weeks ago, it hit me. Maybe I need to look into electric bikes. After all, I have an electric hybrid car. Why not an electric bike? I didn't know anyone who had one, and I'd never rode one, but the image of an electric bike kept beckoning to me.
I did research online and found a bike that was affordable and met my needs. It's called the Cyclamatic. It's a foldable pedal assist bike designed for commuters. "Pedal assist" means that you have to pedal it for the motor to kick in. And it has small wheels, making it even more compact.
This nifty little bike can be folded into a 32 X 30 X 22 inch area and placed in the trunk of a car. Its battery carries the bike for 20-30 miles. It sounded perfect.
On September 10, our 6th anniversary, I asked Jill to buy me the bike by pressing the button on Amazon. As she smiled and pressed the button, I was almost as happy as I was six years ago when I popped the question and she said, "Yes!" (I proposed on my birthday and Jill was by far the best gift I have ever received on that special day, much, much better than an electric bike!)
Three days after Jill pressed the "One-click" button confirming the sale, the bike arrived in a large box, almost completely assembled. It took about twenty or so minutes to do the final assembly and then voila! the bike was ready to ride.
My heart beating with excitement, just like the time I was given my first bike as a kid, I took my new electric bike out onto our street and gave it a whirl. I began by cautiously pedaling it just like a regular bike. Then I pressed the button that gave it the extra oomph. Whoosh! it took off with a burst of speed and I was amazed. I coasted up the hill to Woodbury as if I were riding down hill!
I felt, well, young again, and buff, able to ride up hills just like Lance Armstrong. I still had to pedal, of course, but it was almost effortless. Or rather, it took as much effort as I cared to expend. If I want to get exercise, I turn off the electric motor and pedal on my own. But when I need an assist, I simply press a button and a surge of energy carries me where I wanted to go.
As I explained this amazing bike experience to my men's group at the Episcopal Church, it occurred to me that this is how the Holy Spirit works in my life. Often, when I find myself struggling with a problem that seems insurmountable, and feel as I can't muster the strength to muddle through, I call on God for help. If I am faithful and patient, I begin to feel the presence of something greater than myself--the Holy Spirit--giving me the energy and strength I need to complete the task I'm called to do. The process isn't instantaneous, like the electric bike, but it is nonetheless miraculous. I can't begin to count the times that the Holy Spirit has carried me through a life crisis.
The Holy Spirit doesn't do all the work, however. I still have to do my share, just as in the case of a pedal assist bike. If I don't pedal, the motor doesn't kick in and the bike eventually stops. But if I do my part, the motor amplifies my efforts, no matter how feeble, and I move forward with vigor and confidence.
This is like the miracle of divine grace working together with human will. The theological term for this collaboration between the human and the divine is synergy.
Jesus alluded to this synergy when he told his followers: "Greater things than I have done, you will do" (John 14:12). He meant that when we work together as a community following the will of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, we can do more than even Jesus did. That may seem incredible but it's true. Christians over the millennia have done wonderful work helping people in need, healing the sick, and working for peace and justice. With God's grace empowering us, we are stronger and better together.
I thank God for the countless ways that I have been given a "pedal assist" by the Holy Spirit when times are tough and I felt I didn't have the energy to do what needed to be done. And I thank God for my wife Jill and for all the many gifts she's given me in our years of marriage, including my electric bike!