It came as a surprise. Both times, I’d not seen it, not in the beginning, at least. Both times, there’d been nothing to indicate it lay hidden somewhere in the depths. In fact, both times, what was visible to the human eye spoke something different, something opposite. Something—untrue.
When our oldest son was in elementary school, he went from a petite fellow with his mother’s build to a stocky, chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed kid displaying the other genetics. (This is by no means a criticism. It’s simply a known, witnessed phenomenon on one side of the family tree, and the males tend to follow that pattern.)
As if that weren’t enough, he displayed no interest or real talent for athletics at the time, two solid strikes as any kid knows who’s spent any time at all on the playground. Then came adolescence, and once more he followed the family pattern; he shot up and thinned down. Next, in a move that was completely out of character, he announced that he was going out for football.
It was in preparation for freshman football that he found it. Standing at the sink, I’d glance out the window and see him loping past. Not wanting to look like a heel at two-a-days, he’d started conditioning early.
I recall my apprehension. He was going out for a sport he’d never played. What if he failed? What if others ridiculed him? What if he took on more hurts than he’d already received at the hands of young jocks and athletes? These questions weighed heavily on my mind that summer. Meanwhile, as Mother brooded silently, a boy kept on running our perimeter.
As it turned out, he completed the season. He’d met his stated goals of “getting involved and trying something new,” and decided it wasn’t for him. For that, I admired him. He’d taken a giant leap outside his comfort zone. In trying something new, he’d found his courage, discovered bravery and a brand-new sense of resolve. And he found something else as well.
It was in those daily runs around the edges of our property, preparing for freshman football, that he found his real talent. The boy who didn’t play sports; the kid who wasn’t an athlete; the one who took hits from others at school discovered that he could run.
And he ran and ran and ran. The letter jacket that hangs in the closet is a testament to his career. So is the photo of a sweaty teen crossing Notre Dame’s 50-yard line, sweeping his age group’s half marathon. And so are these numbers, #442 out of 35,000, at the Indianapolis Mini.
The reason I’m thinking about this again is because the story’s repeating itself, all but the freshman football. For the second time, a boy has been seen, loping the perimeter of the property. For the second time, it’s a first-time athlete who was prepping (he thought) for something else. And for the second time, a young man’s discovering a talent for running.
Now, you. What is it you’re thinking of trying? What are you wanting to do? What is holding you back? Is it fear? Yes, it’s scary to leave the familiar, to venture into the unknown. It’s true; you might fail, and others might laugh. You might even look like a fool.
Is it old messages, horrid tapes that still play? That say, “You can’t,” and, “You’ll never?” You’re not smart; too old; too simple by far. Inexperienced, inadequate, inept. Is it these?
I don’t know if what you’re considering is the right thing to do or not. In walking through this with two sons, here are some things I’ve been learning. First of all, as a Christian, I believe that God guides our steps, and in that, there’s a lot of security. But there’s insecurity, too, for He seldom gives us the blueprint. No itineraries, no “here’s what is coming.” He leads us one step at a time. That’s faith.
Secondly, there’s much that one learns in the process, the trying, that cannot be learned other ways. As I tell my boys, “If you try it, and it doesn’t work out, it’s not wasted. There’s something you’ll learn here that you’ll need down the road.”
If we never move forward, never risk, never try, then how can we know that He’s faithful? When you take a step, then one more in the dark—and find solid ground underfoot—He’s been faithful. He’s proven Himself in the dark. And that’s faith.
Thirdly, I’ve found that God’s wild and surprising, unpredictable and terribly creative. When we walk forward one step at a time, even though we can’t see, there’s no telling. No, there’s no telling what can happen when you and I, we trust God and obey.
Shepherd boys slay giants. One man builds an ark. And two boys, surprise athletes, can run. And run.
It’s all faith. Like the boy who brought his small lunch box to Jesus, we bring to Him what we have. We follow His lead, we go where He sends and He will take care of the rest. Trust God.