I cried at the end of my spin class.
My eyes closed, tears leaked from the cracks and joined the sweat in a race towards my chin and neck.
I didn’t cry in defeat. Nope, I’m too many months in to do that. But I will admit an hour of cycling three times a week isn’t easy. I didn’t cry in pain, but oh, how my legs were on fire.
The class was almost over. We were to the best part – the cool down and stretch. Our instructor, Betty, played a relaxing song for us to “shake out our legs” and “ride easy.”
“Close your eyes and let your bike take you wherever you want.” Betty encouraged us from the front. She was on the beach headed towards a bonfire, she told us. Now usually when she plays this particular song and tells us to go somewhere great, I choose Greece.
I’ve never been but I’ve seen pictures and movies. I imagine Alan and I riding bikes down the spiraling roads beside the crystal blue sea. I’m not sure why I chose a different place or how my train of thought laid new tracks, but when Betty stressed, “You can go anywhere!” I went to Heaven.
Don’t ask me what made me want to ride bikes down the streets of gold. It’s not on my “Things to Do When I Get to Heaven” list. Nevertheless, I was riding my bicycle through the pearly gates.
The streets were lined with people. They were cheering and yelling. Some were waving their hands back and forth and jumping up and down. I smiled at the encouragement and pushed myself to keep riding. By this time, actual chills were running down my arms and legs in the spin room. I know I must have looked silly, riding with my eyes shut and the biggest grin on my face ever.
The music was so beautiful it didn’t take much to close my eyes and be there. I pressed on, soaking in the cheers of all those faces, and then I saw them. Through the faces of people cheering me, I saw my Grandmother and Papaw, side by side. It didn’t take too much to spot my Papaw with his height. They waved wildly and grinned as I passed. Next I saw my Memaw and Pop clapping and clapping. They looked me in the eyes as I rode past.
I kept riding, tears welling until I saw my aunt Gail, who died earlier this year. She was yelling my name. “Go Carol! We are so proud of you!” I bit my lip to keep myself from the ugly cry, and I smiled harder through my tears. I saw my childhood friend Stacey, who died while we were in college. I saw my friend and former Sunday School teacher, Shawn.
Can I tell you I never wanted the song to stop? In my head, I spoke to God. Wow! Thank you, Lord for letting me see this. And suddenly this verse came to mind. I believe God placed it there.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV
And right there in the Bodyplex spin room on a stationary bike with a gel foam seat, God confirmed the work He is doing in me and through me. I understood the “cloud of witnesses” were those people who are my encouragers. I knew in my writing and speaking, in serving and loving, in being the Everyday Missionary, I had to press on.
It was as if God stood before me Himself and said, “Good job, Carol. Now keep going.” And so I cried. So now when I feel discouraged, I close my eyes and remember my “cloud of witnesses” and keep going.
Have you ever had a God moment in an unexpected place?
Here is the song Betty played for cool down that day. It’s beautiful.
If you are reading this through email, click HERE to listen to the song.