My two- year-old son is the cautious type. He’s reluctant to go places he’s never been before, and he’s hesitant to do something he hasn’t done before.
It’s a rainy Spring day, and I decide that, even though it’s wet, we should have some outdoor play time. I set up a folding chair in our garage to sit, and I nudge him along to go out and play in the rain.
He ever so cautiously shuffles his little boots out onto the driveway. I watch him intriguingly as he ventures into the unknown. He comes to a puddle and abruptly stops, looking down. He slowly turns his head back to me, eyebrows slightly scrunched with skepticism as if to silently ask, “Is this ok?”
Knowing he needs the extra push, I encourage him, “Go on, you can do it!”
He then, instead of jumping and splashing in the puddle, proceeds to barely dip the toe of his boot in it then quickly removes it.
I watch him further… He side-steps around the puddle. This pattern repeats as he makes his way to our mulch bed. He stops right at the edge of the mulch. He doesn’t usually walk in this area of our yard. He looks back at me again, uncertain if he’s allowed to keep going. Maybe he’s fearful of the possibility of getting in trouble for doing something he shouldn’t, but maybe it’s something deeper. Maybe he’s afraid of taking the risk, of feeling uncomfortable, or of the chance he could fall and get hurt.
By watching my son grapple with his uncertainty, I learn a very important lesson about my own fear.
Any time I take a step beyond where I’ve been before- any time I venture towards the unknown- there is risk involved. This is how my relationship with God can feel. As He nudges me in a certain direction and I start moving out of my comfort zone, I question him. I look back as if to ask, “Is this really ok?”
Or maybe a more important question, “Is this really good for me?”
If something feels scary and possibly dangerous, it’s our nature to want to retract back into our safety zone. But sometimes God may be leading us out into the rain to go beyond where we’ve been before and to possibly get messy. The comforting part is that we don’t have to do it alone. As we look back and question what He’s doing, I imagine him gently nudging us on (as I do with my son) saying,
“You can do it.”
“I’m so proud of you.”
“It’s all going to be ok because I am with you.”
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand." Isaiah 41:10