fear, dreams, & risking the unknown
An unusually warm day in November nudged me out the door for a run. I planned to run my usual course: down to the park, left turn by my favorite coffee shop, past all the beautiful homes and quaint restaurants and shops on a main street in town, down Music Row on 17th, and then back the same way I came.
I’ve done it 100 times. It would have been a great run, enjoyable course, easy in the sense that I didn’t need to think about where I was turning next or how much farther I needed to trod on to make it home. It was routine. It was comfortable.
But reaching the park, I took a sharp left turn and headed to unknown territory. After several busy intersections, it was all side-streets. I twisted and turned and made my way past houses with yards splashed with orange and yellow and red leaves. I waved to parents walking with strollers, an older gentlemen who sat quietly on a bench in his front yard, other runners and cyclists. The sun deceived November and shone in all its glory, making us shed our layers and the crisp fall colors were like paint on a child’s page. It was an impossibly beautiful afternoon.
I ran by a white house on a hill with white ducks swimming in a pond by the road. I stopped and snapped a picture, reveling in my adventurous run that brought such joy and beauty. Emotions swelled my chest. I felt God near.
He had taken me through so many adventures, complete with valleys and mountaintops, and my life would be so dull and meaningless without the great story.
So much of life is a series of decisions to stay the course and hold tightly to what is comfortable or to take a chance on the unknown. There’s a weight inside each of us that pulls us back to what is known, and this weight makes it more difficult to soar to new places.
There’s a story in the Bible of a group of people from Israel who were slaves to the Egyptians. A man named Moses rescued them from slavery, cruelty, and starvation. But do you know what they said over and over when things got hard after they left Egypt? “We want to go back to Egypt!” Slavery in Egypt was predictable; the land in front of them was unpredictable, leaving them longing for a place that was never the final act in their story.
If we stay in the same city, with the same friends, at the same job, running the same course, maybe that is the life God intends. For now, at least. Because moving cities, or going back to school, or changing careers, or even just switching friend groups is risky. We risk feeling alone, we risk rejection and hardship, uncertainty looms. When the adventure detours to the valley, panic can set in that we made the wrong decision.
But what I know from moving across the world to China and forgoing law school is I would have missed the shadowy places that were excruciating at times, but I also would have missed a world of joy, exponentially more soul-filling joy than my comfortable, steady course.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this, because I’m not going anywhere for a while. I’m finally putting down roots for the first time in my life. But I know that some of you have the nudge to take a dive into uncharted waters. Maybe it’s changing jobs, or meeting new friends, or trying out church, or any number of adventures that may lead you down winding, unfamiliar roads, where you may feel panic about when things don’t go well.
We must live unafraid of listening to the urge inside, telling us to stop running the same course, down the same streets, with the same view. For sometimes, those familiar paths lead us away from the greatest part of our story.
Do you feel a nudge to take a leap of faith or do something drastic, something different? Please share!
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- What Now? Part II : Where You Lead, I Will Follow
- June 24 – Remembering God’s Promise