If you’ve known me for even a day or two, you know that I hate running. I complain loudly and often if forced to run any distance, and would rather walk ten miles than run even one. Something about that particular movement, combined with my uncoordinated limbs and general distaste for athletic activity can send me into sheer panic just thinking about it.
If you’ve known me for a while longer, let’s say a couple weeks, you have realized that I am a planner. You can blame it on the fact that I’m a firstborn, chalk it up to the fact that my “highest scoring” spiritual gift is leadership, or just call me obnoxious, but I like to have things nailed down. As a child, I had to know the exact order of the day’s plans. If the plan of McDonald’s, the grocery store, then the bank changed to the bank, McDonald’s, then the grocery store; 3-year-old Alyssa would throw a tantrum and be thrown off for the rest of the day. I’m not quite so extreme at this stage in my life, but I do still like to have life figured out. I send out mass-texts detailing the evening’s plans, create facebook groups for my class months before arriving at college, and planned out my optimal schedule for the next four years a looong time ago.
Though college has taught me how to be more spontaneous and less anal, I still get a panicky feeling in my chest if my plans change at the last minute. When I make a split-second decision to walk to the 24-hour Starbucks and join a study group, I inwardly question the decision the whole way there. When the plans I made at lunch fall through after dinner, the same feeling rises to 18-year-old Alyssa’s brain as the one that sent 3-year-old Alyssa into a tailspin. I have to consciously remind myself that it’s okay, life goes on, and my night is not ruined.
This desire to control extends itself quite easily into my long-term plans. I sometimes think I have it all figured out. I know how I want my life to go… but then God throws a wrench into my plans. That wrench is called His plan. He shows me a little glimpse of it, but never what I think is enough. And the questions spring up.
Where am I going? Did I choose the right major? What am I going to do with my life? Where should I go to church? Am I going to get married, or will I glorify You better if I’m single? What should I do this summer?
God responds by holding out His hand toward me. He asks, “Do you trust Me?”
“Of COURSE I trust you, Lord!” I reply. This is ridiculous. For goodness’ sake, I’m a Moody student. I’ve been on missions trips. I go to church, mentor other girls, encourage others via snail mail. I’m a Christian, obviously I trust Him! I look up at Him with my best duh expression, unprepared for His immediate response.
“Then grab on and hold on tight – we’re going for a run.”
He knows how I feel about THAT particular activity. I mean, why can’t we just drive down the path of life together? Or ride bikes? I would be okay with a brisk walk even, but running?! I hate running.
“Do you trust Me?” He asks again.
“Well… yes, of course I trust You… it’s just… You know how I feel about running. And, on second thought, I think I have a pretty good plan figured out for my life anyway, so maybe if it’s all the same to You, I’ll just go for a walk. Or go to bed. Or, You know, just not run. Ever. I don’t run. You know that. I can’t believe you would even ask me to run. I thought You knew how I felt about running. I can’t do it. I won’t do it.” I mutter my response nervously, picking at my cuticles and cracking my toes inside my shoes. When I look up, He is simply staring patiently, still holding out His hand.
“Let’s go running,” He repeats, a little more emphatically, stretching His hand closer to me. “Trust Me. You’re going to love it.”
Maybe it’s the patience in His eyes. Maybe it’s the scars on the palm that’s extended so earnestly toward me, reminding me of the ultimate sacrifice He made for me. Maybe it’s the knowledge, deep inside of me, that He will carry me when I get too tired to run on my own. Whatever it is, I stretch out my hand with a building feeling of anticipation.
He folds it into His own, and instantly I feel His strength flood into me.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“Trust me,” He replies.
And we begin to run.