Never Satisfied With Where You Are

Good equipment doesn’t guarantee good results

Paul Phillips
Jun 27 · 5 min read
Image by Skeeze on Pixabay

I wish I knew how it happened.

Maybe I’m just too competitive.

Someday, I’ll learn.

Nearing the end of a bicycle ride one day, I noticed an athletically-built young man riding some distance ahead of me. Going the same direction as I, but with the interval between us lessening steadily, it appeared we would soon trade positions.

Rounding a curve in the road, he glanced back to see me a couple of hundred feet behind. Immediately, he stood up on his pedals and began to pump away, swinging the bike wildly from side to side with his muscular grip on the handlebars.

It was hard to misinterpret his intent. There was no way this old man was going to pass him!

Oh, man! Challenge accepted!

I didn’t stand up. I didn’t throw the bicycle from side to side. I simply spun the pedals faster, exerting myself where I had been on autopilot a moment before. As I reached a higher speed, I flipped the right-hand shift lever to the side and the derailleur on the back wheel dropped the chain over one sprocket, sending more of my expended energy to the wheel propelling the lightweight machine of metal and rubber.

Within a quarter mile, I had overtaken the young man and, acting the part of the gracious winner (merely acting, mind you), greeted him in passing, only to hear his backdoor criticism of my feat.

“That’s an awesome bike, man!”

I sputtered out a comment about it being a great day for a ride and pedaled on past. He turned a corner moments later and was lost from the view of my little rear-view mirror.

I pedaled on at the same speed for awhile but slowed gradually as the short, odd interaction took over my mind.

He’s not wrong.

It is a wonderful bicycle.

It’s a lot more bicycle than a rider like me deserves. It was offered to me for a very reasonable price by an old friend a few years ago. Since the Lord had recently blessed me with an extra sum of money earned playing my horn, I had the wherewithal to afford it, so I purchased it.

I understand how nice the bike is. That’s not my problem.

The thing is, the bicycle didn’t overtake the fellow on the road today.

I did.

Lest you think I’m getting a size or two too large for my lycra shorts, let me assure you I understand very clearly my limitations as a cyclist.

I’m not that good a rider.

But, here is what I know, mostly from long periods of time spent doing just the opposite:

If one rides regularly, one develops the ability to ride faster and farther.

You have to ride your bike.

A month before, the young athlete would have pulled away from me easily, showing up this old man on his awesome bike.

That beautiful bicycle leaning against the wall in the storage barn could never have passed anyone by itself. And, ridden by a cyclist on the road for his first outing in a year, the result would certainly have been a losing effort.

My mind was still chewing on the remnants of this earlier event when a note I had written to myself months before caught my eye. Somehow, it seems to dovetail rather nicely.

Be content with what you have, but never with where you are.

The apostle who was once called Saul made a similar statement. Well, he actually made two different statements, but both seem to be rolled up in this one.

Thanking his friends for sending a gift to him, the letter-writing apostle hastened to let them know he had no problem functioning with whatever God provided for him.

I have learned, in whatever condition I find myself — with that, to be content. (Philippians 4:11 ~ my paraphrase)

Earlier in the same letter, he had encouraged them to keep moving — leaving the past and its accomplishments behind — to the goal, never staying in the same place. (Philippians 3:12–14 ~ my paraphrase)

The two statements stand, seemingly in opposition to each other

When combined though, they form a principle capable of radically changing the way we live our lives.

Be content.

Never be satisfied.

It messes with the brain a bit, doesn’t it?

Be content with what you have, but never with where you are.


Personal image

If I gaze longingly out toward the storage barn, remembering the awesome bicycle out there, but wishing for the strength and understanding to operate such a conveyance, I’ll never have more than that bicycle — sitting idle in storage.

And, I’ll be stuck here in one place, with nothing more than a bicycle and wishes.

It requires time and dedication to be able to use His gifts properly.

Somehow, when we commit ourselves to moving forward, He seems to give better gifts with which to make the journey.

It’s time to take what He’s blessed us with and move in the direction He points us.

Towards Him.

Closer to home.

It is an awesome bike.

It’s time to get in the race.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
(Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. ~ Professional tennis player ~ 1943–1993)

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
(On the Road ~ Jack Kerouac ~ American novelist ~1922–1969)


© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family and fun.

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Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.

Paul Phillips

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Christ-follower, writer, Horn player, curmudgeon-in-training. Recovering hypocrite.



Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.