By Beth Calhoun
Have you ever hesitantly tried a new activity and ended up loving it and it became a part of your life? I tried something several years ago and now I look forward to this event every October. I have joyfully ridden my bicycle across the state of Florida twelve (12) times with about 70 other riders and a small support crew. This ride is with a Christian cycling group called C2C C2Cbikeride.com. We load our bikes into a semi truck in Tampa and drive to Daytona Beach. Upon arrival, the bikes are quickly unloaded and the truck drives away. We are left standing in the parking lot with two wheels to travel 200 miles from Daytona Beach to Tarpon Springs.
A few years ago, a man with an impressive reputation participated in the ride. He was a star football player, 2-time Super Bowl Champion (once as a player, once as a coach), 2-time ESPY Award winner, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, received the Buccaneers Ring of Honor Award, authored several books and regularly appeared on TV. Truly a celebrity. Coach Tony Dungy and his beautiful wife, Lauren, were on that ride!! We were all starstruck!!
The first year that Coach Dungy rode, we were all standing in the parking lot near Daytona Beach and the truck drove away. I looked at Coach and thought, “WOW, we are all on the same playing field. His impressive credentials will not help him ride 200 miles. The only thing that matters is how he prepared. Sure hope he’s ready!” Did he train? Did he practice riding in the hills? Does he know how to appropriately shift gears? Does he have what it takes to get to the finish line? At that moment, it did NOT matter that he had 2 Super Bowl rings. The only thing that mattered was if he was prepared.
Those thoughts reminded me that there will come a day, in each of our lives, when the truck pulls away. When that day comes, we will be left standing there - all by ourselves. In Scripture, we read, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV). On the day when the truck pulls away, we will face judgment and the only thing that matters is if we are prepared.
How do we prepare? Scripture states, “that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). We prepare by admitting that we are a sinner. (I don't know about you, but when I look at myself, I know that I am a sinner!) Thankfully, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). We also read that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). However, “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV). Have we admitted? Recognized consequences of our sin? Confessed? Believed?
If you are prepared, thank the Lord for His amazing gifts! If you are unsure if you are prepared, please take time to consider His words and what you are “doing” with Jesus Christ, the One who loved us so much that He willingly laid down His life for you. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).
Remember, our credentials will not open the door to heaven, only Jesus Christ can and we have to be prepared. No one can ride for us, no one will stand in our shoes. When you reach the finish line , will you hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, NIV)? If you are unsure, please let His Word prepare you for your eternal ride because none of us knows when the truck will pull away.
(By the way, the Dungy's are an amazing couple. They each confess Jesus as Lord and strive to serve Him and others to the best of their abilities. And, yes, they both were well prepared for the ride and not only did they finish strong but they have come back and ridden again and again!)
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.