“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, TNIV).
For Rob Warren, a 24-year-old, 6’5”, 245-pound, former captain of a division one-college football team, riding a bicycle almost 1,500 miles in three weeks didn’t seem like it would be too much of a challenge—even though he wanted it to be.
But a week into his journey from Ohio to Colorado, Rob found himself sitting in his tent in the pouring rain next to a dumpster, wondering why everything was going wrong.
Rob had just been through several days of battling 40 mph winds. It seemed in every town he went to people would say things like, “These are the worst winds we’ve had in a while,” which left him feeling as if he’d chosen the wrong week to start. He continued to press on, despite the less-than-ideal conditions. But as he pushed harder and harder, he made little progress. Every time he looked at his speedometer he got angry.
He just wasn’t going fast enough.
Rob had been following God for more than a year. He had seen a complete change in his life and was devoted to sharing the gospel to others. Just weeks before he left for his trip, he had the opportunity to perform with a group of men who would lift things that weighed hundreds of pounds and smash stacks of bricks just to get a chance to share how God had impacted their lives. Rob got to share his testimony to hundreds of people through the ministry. God was already using him in big ways.
But that night, in those miserable conditions, Rob realized he still had a lot to learn.
Rob started to read his Bible and came across Isaiah 40:31, which says, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”
Though he had set out with the goal to rely on God, he realized he hadn’t depended on Him yet. His hope wasn’t in God; it was in his own strength. God was breaking him. It was time for him to acknowledge his desperate need for God.
The next day, Rob’s bad luck seemed to continue. His bicycle broke, and he was stranded alongside a road, with nothing in sight. Soon after he had stopped, a woman drove by. Rob asked for help, but when the woman left he didn’t think she would return. To his surprise, about 20 minutes later the woman returned with her husband. The couple spent the entire day with Rob, taking him to the bicycle repair shop, feeding him two meals and eventually inviting him to stay at their home—he didn’t even have to ask.
“You know God moves in your life on a daily basis,” Rob says. “To see it happen right in front of your face and to see Christ’s love lived out through people—it just blows your mind.”
Rob continued to meet people everywhere he went, staying at someone’s house every night. People would even call their friends located on his route and ask if they might be willing to house their new friend. And sure enough, they would.
Rob got to see Christ’s love displayed through so many different people—people who would invite him to stay or offer to do his laundry before he ever had to ask for help and people who inspired Rob to be even more passionate about his relationship with God.
“I met a 75-year-old man who is a retired pastor. We talked for hours, and he told me that he has never been more intense and strong about his faith than he is right now.” Rob says. “I never want to be stagnant. Just to know that this guy is 75-years-old and has been walking with the Lord for 50 years—and is still excited about it.”
God continued to bless Rob throughout his trip, and he finally reached his destination, Estes Park, Co., where he will participate in a church leadership program and spend every day in the middle of God’s beautiful creation, the Rocky Mountains.
“When I got to Colorado, the first time I saw the mountains, I was like ‘wow, those things are huge,’” Rob says. “But God is so much bigger than that.”