My bike partner Avi and I decided to take a spin to Bernalillo yesterday morning, about 14 miles up the Rio Grande Valley from his place, through Sandia Pueblo and its farmlands, with the Sandia mountains on the near horizon, and other mountain ranges off in the distance.
We got to Bernalillo quickly, so quickly in fact that we realized we’d had a gentle tailwind on the way up, which meant a headwind on the way home. So we decided to draft, which means that one rider takes the lead and the other rides just behind him, with the wheels of the two bikes no more than a couple of feet apart. The lead rider takes the brunt of the wind and the back rider—or multiple riders—takes advantage of the pocket of still air right behind the lead rider to keep up a brisk pace with little effort. On a moderately windy ride like yesterday, the back rider hardly notices the wind at all. Riders can switch lead from time to time and keep a good pace without much strain. Drafting is great, but the downside is that the back rider has to remain hyper-vigilant and focused on the front bike so he doesn’t go crashing into it.
As we were riding home I was thinking about a passage in Hebrews I’d read that morning, including 2:10—“It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The word “pioneer” had caught my attention and I looked up the Greek. It’s archegos, from arche, meaning the one who begins, founds, goes ahead of. It struck me that drafting was a good metaphor for this term, or vice versa. Yeshua doesn’t just open up some new territory like a pioneer and let us find our way within it. Rather he’s right ahead of us, taking the brunt of the resistance and enabling us to follow, shielded by him.
Avi told me that the trick in drafting is to stay close, keep your hands on the brakes, and just focus on the lead rider’s back wheel (which is pretty much right under your nose). If you’re looking around at the scenery or worrying about the next leg of the journey, it’s going to be stressful to also pay attention to the lead bike, and you might miss a sudden signal or warning from the lead bike and go crashing into it. But if you focus just on what’s right in front of you and don’t look down the road or admire the scenery, you can actually relax and just ride. And you’re a lot safer too.
The word archegos appears just four times in the Bible, twice in Acts and twice in Hebrews. I just quoted the first appearance, near the beginning of the book. The second appearance comes toward the end of Hebrews, when the author exhorts us to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Yeshua the archegos and perfecter of our faith . . .” (Heb. 12:1–2). There’s the drafting metaphor again—Yeshua in the lead and us looking to him to stay on course, avoid collision, and keep calm.
We’re in week one of our seven-week UMJC prayer campaign from Passover to Shavuot, and the focus is on renewing our personal union with Messiah. Sounds a bit mystical, I suppose, but the lesson of the road is that union with Messiah is also intense, deliberate, and focused.