Tomorrow they roll into Omaha! The finish point of a long, arduous, and sweltering ride from The Paul Anderson Youth Homecampus to Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska; 1500 miles of pedaling, praying, and perseverance; 1500 miles of adventure, courage, and memories; hills to climb, hot pavement melting bike tires, white chipped limestone reflecting heat off the Missouri Katy Trail into perspiring faces and bodies, some spills on the ground, skirting floods, and even a ferry across the swollen Ohio River; sleeping on floors, cots, couches, and sometimes, rarely, a bed; meals provided by numerous loving and serving hands in diverse settings; prayers for safety and success from many who followed online; the heat setting records throughout the Midwest; and now, tomorrow. . . . . . MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
In Omaha there will be no welcoming crowds to meet them, no jubilant fans to acknowledge their accomplishment. Paul Anderson was familiar with such acclamation; cheering spectators at the Melbourne Olympic Games and the World Championships in Munich; the shouts of awed Russians in Moscow’s Gorky Park, and numerous other international sites. But even the Strongest Man in the World was not noticed when he rode into Omaha in the middle of the night fifty years ago. His wife Glenda remembers when he reached Father Flanagan’s Boys Town completing the long ride, he put his bike into the back of the van she was driving behind him and immediately they headed home to Vidalia. No acclamation, no media coverage, no cheers from admirers. But there was the beginning of a home for young men that would touch and transform hundreds, thousands when families are added, over half a century. The world did not notice then; God did.
Those who have observed or experienced the adoration of fans, the acclamation of the masses, the notoriety of whatever “stage, also know its addiction. The center-of-attention-addict demands continuing adulation and never knows the joy or satisfaction of being pleased with his effort even when no human sees it. Praise, no doubt, from our fellow man is something we instinctively crave, even when we vigorously deny it. We want people to acknowledge us and speak of our accomplishments. We hate to do or make something and receive nothing but silence in return. Yet any wise study of man’s praise will uncover its pernicious faults. Eventually man’s praise is fickle, deceitful, and even destructive to your soul. Man did not make you, neither will his praise sustain or reward you. Happy is the man who does not require the praise of men.
So when these young men ride into Omaha what is their reward? Will the silence of Omaha and the world speak to the value of their accomplishment? Absolutely not! They will have accomplished something very special, very unique in their life to this point; something that had never before even entered their imagination; a mountain they never believed they could climb. This is an accomplishment which is potentially life changing. If it does not lead to a greater dependence on the Living God, drawing nearer to Him, and the knowledge that in Christ they can tackle the world, the flesh, and the devil, the trip may ultimately be in vain for them. Tomorrow they will know that they have done what they never thought they would or could. And they will know that God provided them the cover of safety, a willing heart, a persevering body, and an indomitable spirit. Such does not just happen; it is of God and His mercy. And He was with them all the way!
Neither they, nor we require the praise of men, which passes like a vapor. The praise of God, the knowledge that He is pleased with them, that they have pushed their bodies which He created to the limit, and He sustained them, is everything. No one can take this achievement away. The silence of men means nothing. The praise and glory of God to us is everything. He knows what you did, and He never forgets. I pray He does not let you forget.
Well done, Paul Anderson Youth Home bike riders!
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