Every summer, my family spends three weeks watching the Tour de France. Over 23 days, 170 or so riders tackle 21 different stages, totaling around 2000 miles. The Tour combines flat stages, hilly stages, and mountainous stages to test every kind of rider. We enjoy watching because of the beautiful French countryside, but the real treat is watching individual and team strategies as the race unfolds, often in very unexpected ways. This year, the Tour was postponed from July to September, so I am writing this as the race enters its final week. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how life is like the Tour de France.
Tour de France bikers work in teams, supported by a huge network of staff concerned with their nutrition, overall health, logistics, and bike maintenance. When we say “we’re all in this together,” I hope we’re imagining a structure like this – where each of us is working for the health and success of the whole, but we each have different jobs. This is how the apostle Paul talks about the Body of Christ; each performs a different function, but the body needs them all.
The course the riders follow is not of their own design or choosing. That sounds like life right now, doesn’t it? And even when we think we understand each day’s – or each week’s , or each season’s – challenges, the unexpected can always happen. A freak storm, a crash, a flat tire or dropped chain, or gravel on the road can make an already difficult day even harder. But sometimes we have those moments of grace, when everything works just right and we feel good and our team is in sync and somehow we end the day at the top of the mountain, pumping our arms in the air as we cross the finish line.
Whatever this next month holds for us, let’s approach it as a team, each ready to do our part to get through the tough days, to celebrate the successes and support each other in the failures. Let’s make sure we have enough nourishment and the right equipment. And at the end of each day, let’s know that we have done what we could, and that we will get up the next morning and meet the day’s joys and challenges together.