This just in: Mockingbird friend and supporter Joseph Martin recently published a truly remarkable book, No Bag For The Journey: One Man, One Bicycle, One Outrageous Journey of Faith, telling the story of his courageous attempt to revitalize his faith via a cross-country bike ride. Part memoir, part travel log, part adventure story, it’s a tour-de-force of a testimony, filled with arresting honesty and humility that will speak on an especially gut level to believers who are running/have run out of gas with the Christian life (puns intended). In fact, it’s a key resource in that respect. I defy you not to relate! The epilogue, written twenty years after the fact, is a neutron bomb of Grace:

The truth is, reading the story of my bike ride twenty years later literally makes me want to cry. The reason is because I remember the guy twenty years ago who genuinely loved God and tried to do everything he could, even ride a bike across the country, to feel loved and approved by Him, but could never seem to do enough. And to watch him try so relentlessly and painfully is truly heartbreaking. 

Having grown up with an inherent drive to seek the approval of all significant people in my life, it was only natural that when I became a Christian, I would transfer that drive toward God and seek His approval, along with the rest of the Christian community, by being the best Christian I could be. What that meant was trying to eliminate all “worldly” influences that might draw me away from God, while adding all those religious activities and practices that might make me more pleasing to Him, all the while thinking, maybe even subconsciously that He (and they) would love me more, the “better” Christian I became. Not that trying to please God is a bad goal, but when the motivation is to earn His love and approval, the striving can be exhausting and the result devastating.

Now, clearly, that was not the only motivation for making the ride – God only knows what motivations reside in the recesses of the human heart – but suffice it to say that the guy riding his bike across the country loved God and wanted so much to feel His love in return, he would have done anything to achieve it. The heartbreaking part is watching a guy trying so hard to earn something that I have now come to understand was there the whole time, offered as a free gift from a gracious and loving God…

Read the rest of the story by ordering your copy today