I signed my husband and I up for a triathlon about two months ago. This was his first and our first as a team. He was to swim; I was cycling and running. It was a gorgeous morning out at South Padre Island. Every now and then I like to sign up for some type of event just to hold myself accountable and to not completely turn into jello.

My husband finished his swim (with the help of the canoe people). Hey, he tried. I very much give him credit for trying. Not many husbands would jump into the bay at 7:30 in the morning for their wives. I quickly got the timing chip off of his leg and transitioned to my bike station; and I was off. It was hot. Every now and then the sand would blow and that wasn’t too pleasant. People would pass me. I would pass people. Then there was this girl. She and I were at about equal speeds. We still had about 7 miles left to pedal.

So what do girls do? We talk. Started with the normal, “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?”  Then got a little deeper from there. I found out that this girl has run nine marathons. Wow. I’m impressed. She said she was a flight attendant, and was able to travel to many of the more well know marathons like Boston Marathon and San Fransisco, and Hawaii. She also said that she has invited her mom to every single one of those- but her mom had declined. You see, her mom was, her words, a very ‘religious’ person. And all of her marathons landed on a Sunday. So, her mom couldn’t participate on the day of rest.

I think when I told her my husband and I were Children’s Pastors, she probably thought, “Oh no, another religious person.” But she realized I appeared to be pretty normal, so she kept talking. “You see, today is the first time my mom has ever come out to see me participate in any of my events.” Our event was on a Saturday. It was obvious the two weren’t as close as she would have liked to have been. I’m assuming this by her comment, “There’s my mom, the fat lady in the jean skit.”And we transitioned into the run. Went our separate ways- yelled bye, never to see her again.

My heart was a little sad that day for marathon girl. Because her mom was so blinded by all the religious rules, that she was missing out on a fabulous relationship with her  daughter who so desperately wanted her attention.

I learned two lessons from that bike ride:

1) Don’t get so caught up in rules that you loose the relationship. Jesus is all about people. Love God and love your neighbor. That’s it. When your little religious rituals take the place of people, you’ve just missed what Jesus is all about.

2) Never underestimate the power of seeds planted. (Even if only for a brief moment in time, on a bike). God may have allowed your paths to cross with someone for a season, for a few moments, or for a lifetime.  I know marathon girl has a very negative spin on most people who go to church or spew their religious beliefs. I hope that, on this particular day, that she saw someone who cared, someone who listened, and someone who didn’t tell her everything she’s doing wrong. That we aren’t all fruit cakes with our hair up in a bun waving our Jesus flag. I hope that through a regular girl like me, she saw Jesus.

Jesus said, “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37 – 40)