BY: Zoya Lee
Former CEM intern, current CEM staff member and 3-time Agony rider!
There are seasons of my life where there is a more deliberate, a more conscious drawing near to the Lord usually brought about by a set of challenging circumstances. In this particular season, He’s also reminding me of the joy found in obedience.
As I am writing this, it is Holy Week, and I’ve been reading a devotional intended to “focus our attention on Jesus as He displays His love to the uttermost.” Monday’s text leads us to ponder what it meant for Jesus to set His face for Jerusalem. The author wrote, “Remember, when you think of Jesus’s resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do.” I don’t know about you, but oftentimes when I think of Jesus I tend to focus more on His divinity than His humanity. Perhaps, because to consider His humanity, I’d need to put myself in His place and that’s far too painful. Because I, too, shrink back from pain. And then I remembered last year - the week leading up to the Agony Ride. On the morning before the Ride as U-Hauls were being loaded, a coupIe of students walked in on me crying. I explained that it was just my “pre-Ride cry”. What they didn’t know was that this had been a daily ritual every morning that week. I was setting my face for Jerusalem.
As many of you know, the Agony [Ride] is the eponym of the agony Jesus endured on the cross - the ultimate display of the depth of His love for us. The Agony Ride is our attempt at displaying Jesus’ love to our students by riding as far and as long as we can, enduring increasing pain and discomfort as the hours wear on. But it’s our choice to ride. It’s my choice to ride. “Love is deep in proportion to its liberty.” Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. Agony riders willingly sacrifice their bodies (and much more) for our students.
And in this willingness, we find joy. Jesus rejoiced to do His Father’s will - to the very end. Physical pain never became physical pleasure. But it was joy that sustained Him. “He really, really wanted to save us.” And we at CEM, along with all who participate in the Agony, really, really want our students to find hope and life in Christ.