OK—here’s another bicycling metaphor that I think holds an important spiritual lesson.
When cycling up a long climb you have to keep your focus, perhaps struggle, and probably expend a lot of energy. When you finally get to the summit, you may have a relatively flat area or a sudden descent—both quite wonderful, especially when there’s a beautiful view!
But do you ever really just get to coast?
Not from my experience. Though I may or may not be continuing to physically pedal or strive and struggle in the way that I did when climbing, I still have to be continually alert. I still have to be very aware of my surroundings—the road surface conditions, corners, traffic, intersections, pedestrians, other cyclists, animals, etc. I certainly may enjoy the beautiful scenery, or the feeling of freedom that a great descent can provide, but I don’t get to simply relax and “take it easy.”
If I expect to be safe, I must remain vigilant.
And so it is with our spiritual growth.
For instance, we may have worked long and hard to overcome a disease, a relationship problem, or an employment challenge. And we definitely should rejoice and be grateful for the evidence of God’s goodness and love for us in the defeat of the adversity and our consequent liberation from it.
But do we have the luxury to let our spiritual guard down and feel that we can or even deserve to just “coast” for awhile? Can we really afford to think that we don’t have to keep pressing on to gain a deeper spiritual understanding—an understanding that allows us to become better healers?
Wouldn’t it be just like the non-intelligent carnal mind–error, evil—to try to “sneak” a suggestion into our thought the moment we stopped watching? The moment we ceased to be alert?
One might be tempted to think that such a degree of alertness might detract from our joy and rejoicing. But it can’t for one simple reason. Spiritual awareness is arrived at by using and exercising our God-given spiritual sense and discernment—an activity that can only enhance our feeling of God’s presence and care for us.
The need to be ever-alert was clearly stated by Mary Baker Eddy:
Be watchful, sober, and vigilant. The way is straight and narrow, which leads to the understanding that God is the only Life. It is a warfare with the flesh, in which we must conquer sin, sickness, and death, either here or hereafter, — certainly before we can reach the goal of Spirit, or life in God. (Science and Health, p. 324)
There’s nothing there that sounds like coasting to me!