“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:31 (NIV)
Ready for battle, prepared for the game, ready to move in to college, prepared to start a new job, ready to take on the real world. Many of the major events we face in life require some level of preparation, and athletes are no strangers to this concept.
We put in countless hours of practice, strength and conditioning training, film, individual coaching sessions, and even nutritional preparation, to ensure we are ready to take on our next opponent. But, what no one can prepare for is the feeling of uncertainty and discomfort that can greet us at the start of any new endeavor.
Maybe it’s anxiousness with a new team, new coaches or new workouts; the list can go on and on. Yet, even amidst the unknown and insecurities that come with any new challenge, peace can be found. It’s a peace that doesn’t come from the promise of success, or the guarantee that everything will go smoothly. It comes from the fact that God has directed our every step to get us to that point, and He certainly isn’t going to stop leading us.
Recently, I’ve been reading through Proverbs, one chapter a day for a month. What has amazed me most is that, while the Proverbs are full of wisdom and guidance, there is always the constant reminder that it’s not in our power to understand every step of the way. Rather, we need to trust in God’s leadership.
Proverbs 21:30 says, “No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.”
As a person who likes to have control, and know what to expect, this verse unnerved me the first time reading it. However, other verses like Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps,” help me put in perspective who is really in control.
The concept of surrendering control again, if I’m being honest, makes me uncomfortable. However, I know it is necessary for growth in my relationship with God. Furthermore, it’s reassuring to know that no matter what I do, successful or not, God has led me to that point for a purpose. While I may not know what that is, and I don’t have to, I am encouraged not to worry about fully understanding the why.
I recently moved overseas to pursue a professional volleyball career in Finland. Since then, I’ve been facing several unknowns and have been uncertain about things on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. I’ve had to surrender a lot of my independence and control because of language, transportation and cultural barriers. Even in practices and trainings, there are many occasions where I don’t fully understand what to do and I mess up, but I’ve learned to just give myself grace.
I try to take a deep breath, remind myself why I am there, thank God for the opportunity to be there, and start again. I’ve learned that beating myself up for being in a new environment is not fair to myself or to God, who has brought me here for a reason. Focusing on the big picture, even if it’s blurry and makes no sense, has helped me through my most embarrassing or frustrating moments.
Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, beyond control and understanding, has helped me see how much more capable God is at providing for me than I will ever be. Ultimately, we are called to “remain in [God’s] love…” (John 15:9, my favorite verse). I’ve found that reminding myself of that truth has given me the freedom to live a life that has purpose, no matter how uncomfortable I may be.