I have a pair of favorite sneakers that I always wear when I have a busy and tiring day ahead of me. They are now torn and tattered looking from quite a few years of wear and tear. These shoes somehow remind me of my journey in life and the precious grace of God…
Corrie ten Boom once said, “If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes.” I’d like to compare these shoes to God’s grace. Some times, I have chosen to wear my shoes of grace, and they have become ugly like a pair of worn out sneakers because I haven’t allowed God to make something beautiful out of them. They may be functional, but there is nothing attractive to them. I have become angry and upset at all the hard terrains that I have had to struggle across. The boulders of rocks that have upset my life, making it a difficult journey, have made ugly holes in my shoes. Others can see that my shoes are just my size and were designed for me. So if they are a perfect fit, then why do they look so tattered and unappealing?
As I look at the once clean and white shoes that are now coming apart at the seams, I think about the countless times that I have walked down various hospital corridors over the years. I have spent innumerable hours in doctors’ offices as I have cared for our children with their special needs. I have, at times, been angry at God for allowing my precious children to face so many painful and life threatening situations. I have been frustrated that we weren’t able to have a “normal” life. I would see others taking for granted and not even seeming to appreciate the things that our family would greatly long for. However, I always found God’s grace to be there if I chose to repent of my ungrateful attitude and allowed Him to again fill me with His joy. (Our family’s journey is in our book: Big Mountain, Bigger God )
Each of us have had to walk on some uncomfortable and hard roads in our lives. Has the grace we are walking in just become functional and lost its beauty? On the exterior, we may appear to be a spiritual giant when, in reality, we are more like a walking
mummy. We may claim an element of grace that keeps us from turning to things that an unbeliever does like drugs, alcohol, suicide, etc. however, we don’t seem to have enough grace to actually have joy. Is our God not big enough to give us all the grace we need to respond like He has taught us to? Do others who know us intimately see the many flaws and discover that we aren’t walking in grace like it appears from a distance? Are we just operating robotically or is the joy of Jesus still evident on our faces?
Sometimes it is almost easier to claim God’s grace for the big, catastrophic trials than for the daily, minor irritations we experience. I have personally discovered and believe that the grace of God is sufficient to carry me through any situation. In all honesty though, I struggle with the daily irritations and inconveniences when they look so small compared to the big things I’ve had to walk through. After heart transplants, cancers, severe allergies, and the loss of our son, you would think that I would never struggle with getting upset about minor events. Dealing with the demands of toddlers or the emotional issues of teenagers should not even begin to get me down. After all, I do have the same shoes available for these situations.
My mom has always been a resourceful and creative person, and I remember her taking some of my dad’s ragged shoes and using them as a flower bed ornament. She filled them with dirt, then planted some flowers in them. Numerous people commented about the uniqueness of those shoes and wanted to keep their old shoes for the same purpose. In much the same way, you can’t always keep from getting tattered and beat up on your journey throughout life, but you can do something about your response. You can choose to take your tattered shoes of grace and turn them into something of beauty that others will admire and long to have for themselves. How are you responding when God allows something big to detour you in the course you had planned or when daily irritations upset you? Is God’s grace able to look beautiful to others because rather than walking around with a long face, they can see peace and joy even in the midst of your pain?
God bless you with much joy in your journey as you take each step that God has placed before you! It’s time to replace or restore those worn out shoes!