By KRISTAN DOOLEY

Running in a new place can be rough. In unknown territory, adjustments have to be made. Over the miles a runner learns her route. She knows when the path dips, how it turns and where it gets rocky. The known foundation underneath her pounding feet welcomes her consistently. It’s  freeing to know where you are. Freeing in a way of energy conservation. To the runner, a known path is an easier path because she can direct her energy on what is ahead and not what is below.

We are on vacation, which means this morning my running routine was different. New place, new space, new foundation. Instead of the often cold, hard running trails in Ohio, I found myself on the soft, sandy beach in Florida. Total upgrade, I know! Only, instead of breezing through what should have been just a beautiful run, I found myself struggling tremendously. Where I had easily completed six miles at home two days ago, today I struggled to complete three!

The terrain was different. Instead of the normal blacktop, the soles of my feet were met with fleeting sand. Each time my foot connected with the sand underneath, it sank, making it a lot harder to pick back up again. Not only was I struggling to connect my stride, but the ground was uneven, causing one side of my body to overcompensate and throwing me off balance throughout the duration of my run.

I thought about stopping when I sensed God speaking.

“Slow down, take a deep breath. This is a new place. The ground here is different. Today, you are going to work new muscles into your old routine. You won’t be able to run as fast as you could at your old place and that’s okay because look around you. Don’t allow the new terrain and the pain of what you don’t know distract you from the beauty surrounding you. You’ve never been here. It’s beautiful. Enjoy it. Learn it. Get used to it.”

Isaiah prophesied about the struggles the Israelites would have coming out of captivity. Though the new scenery surrounding them would sing of freedom and adventure, they would find themselves wildly concerned with the unfamiliar terrain. Focused on the unknown, they would struggle to move forward.

“This is what the Lord says— He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:16-19 NIV)

With so much still ahead of them, they couldn’t waste energy dwelling on things behind them – even the good things. God is the God of today – but He is also the God of tomorrow and because of that we can keep going even when it’s different.

I kept running on the beach and eventually the sand solidified under my feet and became a place of consistency. It still wasn’t as comfortable as my everyday run at home, but it was more beautiful than what I was accustomed to. Running in new places is about adjustment and alignment. It’s about allowing ourselves the space to slow down and the grace to readjust and the time to realign. In the grand scheme of things being a runner is about learning to run in lots of new places as well as the comfortable old spaces.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  If the new land you are running (or walking) on is hard – slow down – because your pace is not  as important as His work.  He is laying a new foundation that your feet will eventually learn just as well as the old. Look up. Look around. Take in the new scenery. Smell the air. Breath deep.

PRAYER  Father, make me a celebrator of the new. Help me to have open hands concerning the way you’ve moved in the past, keep me holding loosely to the land around me. Empower me to walk forward into the unknown. Keep my head up so I don’t miss the beautiful scenery around me. Adjust my step to the new foundation underneath me. Thank you for the unknown. I celebrate what is coming! Amen.