I had to retire my favorite pair of tennis shoes. For a tennis player, it’s a big deal. You see, the repetitive stops and starts on hard-court tennis surfaces wear and tear the soles of a player’s shoes. And if you play frequently, just about the time you get a pair of tennis shoes really comfortable and broken-in, you start to notice your feet sliding on the court more. Gone is the tell-tale squeak as you quickly move around the court. So, you check the bottom of your shoes and there it is … a smooth surface worn so thin it will render a gaping hole at any moment.
So, despite the fact that these shoes are just now feeling really nice to play in — no pinches or pulls or movement inhibition — I suddenly have to give them up for a super stiff new pair. Why? Because the old ones are no longer safe. Without proper traction, I could slip or slide on the court, injuring a muscle or turning a knee or ankle.
These shoes remind me of my life. Just when I feel like I’m hitting a pleasant stride, everything changes. Out with the familiar, in with the unknown. Whether it’s suffering like illness, or upheaval like moving, or expected but difficult change like children graduating and leaving home, nothing ever seems to stay the same. The only constant is change itself.
God is always pressing forward. Always pursuing us. He is never stagnant. So, if we are staying the same, we are by default choosing to move further away from Him. If we’re not seeking Jesus in our daily lives, we are actually seeking distance from Him. Where He leads, we must follow. Not doing so equates to disobedience.
I’d like to tell you that I embraced that new pair of tennis shoes, went out and played hard, never complained, and my feet felt great. But they didn’t. And I didn’t. My feet were aching after being thrust into their new environment. I moaned and groaned about it, too. However, I know my sneakers will adjust over time. A few more outings and they will begin to loosen up, and before I know it, I will refer to these new shoes as my old comfortable pair. And then I will have to start this process all over again.
My friends, we will adjust and loosen up with a little time, too. Don’t fight change, but look for where God is moving and join Him there. New environments may make us tense with anxiety or fear, but soon it will all begin to feel familiar and comfortable. And that’s when we know it’s time for God to stretch us with something new once again. Because it’s in the stretching where we grow in likeness to Him.