The air was crisp and the golden hills were outlined by cloudless blue sky. I decided to go mountain biking in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with a few friends.
Barely a mile in and rolling along the hard-packed dirt and rocks, I tried to twist my right foot out of the pedal to check if I could easily unclip from the pedal, but my shoe wouldn't unclip! Slowly my body and bike leaned to the right—which was downhill.
The bike and I fell downward, sliding in the yellow foot-high grass. Finally, I stopped. There I lay, on the damp, cold mud with the bike sprocket pressing into my right calf.
Taking a calming breath, I made sure I could feel all my limbs. Then I realized I was about 10 feet below the trail. As I got out from under the bike, one of my friends turned around to see if I was all right. She helped me up and congratulated me on a great wipeout. I felt embarrassed and hoped I'd make it to the end of the ride.
Sometimes, that's how we feel inside—out of control, like the wind has been knocked out of us. We wonder if we'll make it through our journey when we see we're 10 feet off the path. What do we hang on to to steady ourselves?
When this happens to me, I remember the power, peace, and presence of Jesus. He has many characteristics, but when we're falling downhill, Jesus is the last thing on our minds. However, power, peace, and presence are easy to recall and, therefore, they are my go-to's when life tips sideways.
One of my favorite stories illustrating the power of Jesus takes place the night He is betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Judas came with a crowd of priests, theological leaders, Roman soldiers and temple guards. They carried swords, clubs, torches, and lanterns. The Bible doesn't tell us how many were in the mob, but research tell us it was more than 12 and less than 100. (John 18:1-8 NLT)
Jesus asked, "Who are you looking for?"
They replied, "Jesus the Nazarene."
Now here's the cool part. Jesus says, "I am he." And the crowd draws back and falls to the ground!
In the original language of the New Testament, Jesus says, "I am." He speaks two words which point back to Exodus 3:14 when God revealed his name, "I AM WHO I AM." Jesus chose to release his power when saying "I AM," causing a crowd to step back and fall down. That's power. Effortless power.
The peace of Jesus is given to us (John 14:27). We can understand and receive His peace, but at the same time, His peace is also beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7). This peace is wholeness, quietude and rest.
Let's revisit the night when Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. One person named Malchus was in the crowd of men carrying clubs and lanterns. He is the chief executive assistant of the high priest and well known enough to be mentioned in the Bible.
Judas approaches Jesus and greets Him with a kiss on the cheek. Before the mob arrests Him and takes Him away, one of Jesus's disciples gets his hands on a sword and whacks off Malchus's right ear (Luke 22:47-53).
Jesus, the one who gives peace, touches Malchus's ear and makes his body complete again, demonstrating His peace and power, even while being arrested.
What do you think Malchus was thinking and feeling at that moment? Probably a little shock, amazement, and… peace. Wholeness.
When I'm feeling fragmented, I like to take a deep breath and ask Jesus to fill me with His peace, and He does! (Philippians 4:6-7)
The last thing Jesus said to His followers reassured them of His presence.
"And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). The "with" in the original language means "He will be present."
Jesus is present in us because His Holy Spirit lives in those whom He loves. (I Corinthians 3:16) Sometimes it is hard to believe Jesus is present, especially when we go through a traumatic experience. Yet, He is there in His power and His peace.
In mountain biking, I've often lost control. In life, we will experience out-of-control circumstances, hardships and even happy moments when we're unsure how to celebrate. As we remember Jesus's power, peace, and presence, which are always true, we experience His unwavering affection.
You can learn more about trusting Jesus here.