by Christina Stolaas
One of my favorite places to run is the beach. The serenity offered by coastal surroundings is like no where else in the world: glorious sun-rays, gentle consistent breeze, the slapping of waves on the shore, and of course-- soft sand! On a beach getaway this year I was enjoying the luxury of an uncrowded beach early in the morning. Gracefully, I glided through the low tide whites of the waves, each step refreshing as I stepped on the smoothly paved firm sand. It was absolutely divine!
In the far distance ahead, I caught sight of a young lady running the opposite direction about 20ft from the shore. As she neared, the first thing I noticed was the obvious fact that she was an experienced runner, as evidenced by her performance apparel, sleek figure and toned muscles. She was trudging through the soft “fluffy” white sand with strenuous effort. With each step, her legs were literally bounding off the sand but due to the inconsistency of the terrain she was running at a shockingly slow pace. As she got closer I noticed she was soaked in sweat, red faced and labored in breathing as though she was running a speedy sprint.
As I continued to run effortlessly on the wet, flat, firmer sand I thought about all the extra effort she was exerting by choosing to run on the distinctly opposite sand that was literally just feet away. Why would anyone choose to run on that sand when a much more comfortable surface was literally inches away? As we passed each other I wonder if she noticed that vast difference of our strides that was merely a result of the terrain on which we ran.
I was struck with the parallel of the Christian walk. As Christians, fear, lack of trust and self-sufficiency too often lead us to choose to run on sand that will inevitably wear us out prematurely. Though the white sand is visually appealing and even “feels great” to our feet-- attempting to run for any length of time on it is exhausting! It’s obvious that this type of sand wasn’t made for running! In fact, running for prolonged periods on this type of sand can cause overuse injury to calves, arches, and ankles due to the strain and lack of support for your feet.
I know I have too often then I care to admit trudged through the debilitating white sands while boldly proclaiming my desire to want to know God's will for my life and my path. I choose my sand instead of His. I want to do it my way; I ignore the Holy Spirits prodding and gentle whispers, “Get in! Come dip your toes in the water...” I run on the white sand because I don’t want to get too close to the waves. Maybe I fear the majesty of the sea, the unpredictable tide or perhaps it’s the temperature of the water. When I choose to run on this other sand I face obvious and unavoidable consequences-- often injury and paralyzing exhaustion.
The stunning reality is that the course God desires for us to run, which we often fear, is actually easier. Matthew 11:30 says: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Our Father in heaven literally paves the road He has marked for each of our lives much like sand. Stop and visualize that for a minute. Gentle, white foam tipped water creeping up the shore consistently with wave after wave; thousands of sand granules being lifted up, replaced and methodologically moved with each covering to leave flawless smooth sand; literally waves of mercy and grace perfecting the ground ahead to give you secure footing on which to run! The God who created the universe is willing to remove obstacles! God desires to literally smooth the bumpy sand of your individual circumstances so that you can run unhindered and gracefully.
I believe God requires us to run on His sand if we are to fulfill our unique destiny on earth. His waves are gentle and graceful, distinctly paving a clear path for each step of your life. Matthew 11:29 also says when we take His yoke upon us “you will find rest for your souls.” That means He desires you to run successfully! He also longs for you to enjoy the adventure and scenery. We ought to be describing life's daily runs with vibrant adjectives! Fulfilling. Delightful. Intoxicating.
The reality is, if you run on the sand of your own choosing you will finish debilitated, with fatigued muscles and fall short of accomplishing within your performance potential. Choose today to take God at His word and run on His sand-- the scenery is amazing! As others see the contagious smile you run with perhaps they’ll decide to join you in this amazing adventure!
by Christina Stolaas