You're Always Going Before Me
take my first strides onto the Pinhoti Trail, I'll be running a race I've never experienced. I'll be running a course I've never run - higher and further than I've ever attempted to go. Symbolically, the race will cut through dense forest that at times will leave me feeling lost, no clue where I'm going save for the occasional trail markers pinned to trees.
Before my running journey, I was always most comfortable being in places I was familiar with. I tackled projects and ideas I'd experienced before. That familiarity reduced the risk I felt, and with less risk came more confidence.
Sticking to the familiar has its downside, though. It means you'll always go where you've always been. You'll always pursue the comfortable you. And one thing running has taught me beyond any doubt - the comfortable me is never the best me. The me I've discovered outside my comfort zone is a me that's easier to look at in the mirror, a me that sleeps better, a me that sees there's a world out there much bigger than, well - me.
How do you get up the nerve to run into the unknown? Confidence is so critical to taking a first step. When you're paralyzed by fear of the unknown, the potential to be a better you isn't always enough incentive to push that go button. For me the answer is faith, and specifically, trusting that where I'm about to go, God has already been. Deuteronomy 31:8 says:
"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."
This verse is my assurance God will make sure my race turns out OK. I also know sometimes God's OK isn't the same as mine. My OK is get out there and finish my race within the time limit. That's my goal. But I've run enough races now to know sometimes God has gone before me and weaved a plan that doesn't look like my race picture. His biggest success at times has been in my biggest failures.
The key to that verse is knowing that although I may be stepping into the unknown, I'm going to a place completely known to the one who's promised he won't fail or forsake me. There will be great comfort in knowing, in the middle of the forest and in the middle of a mile where it feels like there's just too much further to go, that I'm running in a race and in a place someone has already gone before me. And once I've completed retracing his steps, I'll stand astonished at what he did along the way.