I am riding at as quick a clip as I can maintain—until I see a formerly relaxed dog rise hackles-up head-down to pursue. I quickly realize I have another 50% or so of pedal power in reserve. But not even my adrenalin-assisted surge suffices to outpace the single-headed Cerberus. The faster I go the faster the beast closes on me. What saves me from the pursuing canine that day is that he simply loses interest before he gets to me. I make it to work just fine.

A different day and a different ride, I break the chain on my bike and experience the hard reality that pedal-power matters not at all if nothing connects the crank to the wheels. I might as well lie on my back and thrust my feet meaninglessly into the air. I make it home by gravity’s grace—I had just crested the final hill about a mile from my house.

Knowing that fear motivates much of what we do, Jesus reminds us that our work will never suffice to escape the specters chasing us through this world, including our darkest shadow. “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Our being and doing depend entirely on our Creator and Sustainer. Attempting to escape my foe or fulfil my purpose through even my best effort is beating the air, with fists or feet.

Yet because our faith is real, our work is real. James reasons that faith apart from works is useless; faith is active along with works, and is completed by works. Paul tells the believers in Galatia that the Spirit is not the law, but also that the Spirit produces in us what the law neither produces nor forbids: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—none of which is complete as mere attitude. That is, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also pedal with the Spirit.” (Okay, Paul says “keep in step.”)

This week, may the faith which protects and directs us also equip and engage us, to our work and safely toward home.