Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Those Aren't Your Shoes

2 Samuel 22:33-34 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.

We were heading excitedly down the path at the park. My two two-year olds were running with excitement. Well, I should say, one of them was. My son kept tripping a little every few feet. He has taken a liking lately to his older sister's Crocs. I'm not sure if it's the bright yellow and orange that fascinate him, or the feeling of wearing big kid shoes. Whatever the case, he loves to wear these out. We let him do so around home or if we're headed somewhere he won't be doing a lot of walking, since they are about 3 sizes too big.

On this particular day, however, I had forgotten he had those shoes on. He had done ok for a while, taking time to stop and put them back on when they fell off, or picking himself up again from another minor trip. Finally, there was one bigger fall that caused some scraping, though he still caught himself. He looked at me with tears in his little eyes that said, "I'm frustrated and hurt." It was then I had one of those mom moments. You know. The ones when you hear yourself saying something to your children and suddenly realize you're talking to yourself too. Ever had one of those?

I said, "Son, those aren't your shoes. That's what happens when we wear shoes that aren't ours." Wham. The conviction train ran me over. How many times have I tried to (figuratively of course) wear shoes that weren't mine? How much pain have I self-inflicted by trying to run in shoes that are too big, too tight or just plain old not for me?

When I chase after someone else's success, someone else's path, trying to force my life into their same shoes, I'm disappointed. When someone else tries to force their plans, ideas and dreams for me on my life, I struggle, fall and cry. I cannot run well in life wearing the dreams and desires and ambitions of others. Instead, I always find myself stopping to try to force the shoes back on again. These stops, starts, and struggles remind me that someone else's shoes weren't made for me to fill.

God made each of us unique. Our calling, our gifting, our talents and our opportunities are all different. When we put on someone else's shoes, no amount of envy, cajoling or faking will move us forward the way we were meant to move forward. (Not to mention that if we've got our feet jammed in there, the person who is meant to wear those shoes can't wear them. )

I don't know if you can relate to my son's struggle, but I can. I've been there and done that, figuratively speaking. I have tried on callings and opportunities and paths and talents that were definitely not my own. I have worn shoes others have placed on me and found myself frustrated. I have looked longingly and with awe at the sparkle and success of someone else's life, someone else's road and stood so sure that those shoes would be just right. But they're not. They weren't made for me.

My son has shoes of his own. His shoes fit the contours of his own little feet. They're just right for the stage of growth and for the season he's in right now. He doesn't need to flail around struggling to wear his sister's shoes. In the same way, You and I have our own shoes to wear. God has given us each opportunities and gifts and places and relationships that are ours to walk in. We may think that others' look better or feel better, but the truth is that our shoes are tailor made by a Heavenly Father who loves us. He knows what shoes we need for the specific roads we face ahead, shoes for running and not growing weary, for walking and not growing faint.

Isaiah 40:31 "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Hold My Hand

Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (NIV)

We were leaving church the other day. As usual, it was quite a gymnastics workout to get our twin two-year olds reined in before we opened the door to the parking lot.

As we made our way towards the street, I reached for my daughter's hand. She did not want my hand. She twisted and turned. She protested and resisted. She even tried that famous kid move. You know. The one where they collapse while you're holding their arm, so that they drop in that spot and you have to stop. As I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince her to willingly hold my hand, it hit me that this is the way I often treat my Heavenly Father.

There are times in life when God is leading me on to new chapters. He opens the door to things, sometimes scary and sometimes delightful. At times, I'm tempted to lose focus, to try to wiggle free from His grip or to run ahead of Him, thinking I know the way. Like my daughter in that parking lot, sometimes I think I've made it so far. At times, I'm so eager to go running out ahead of God to explore all of the new things in the various chapters of my life. I get overcome with emotion and the glitter of all of the excitement and newness ahead of me. I think, "I've got this. I'll meet you over there."

What I fail to remember in these moments, is that I need to keep holding God's hand. I need to keep in step with the Spirit. There are things coming toward me that, without God's perspective, I may never see coming until I'm demolished by them. While I can now walk in some areas where I used to crawl, the truth is that I still need the wisdom, insight and perspective that my Father God has on my life and my situations. I need His protection and His guidance. Most of all, I need every step of my life to be under the leadership of His unfailing love.

Just as my daughter failed to understand the very real dangers around her in that parking lot, I often fail to remember that God's perspective is so much higher and broader than my own. He sees things I have yet to see. He understands things I am far from understanding. When He guides my hand lovingly into His, I can trust that it is out of love and leadership. It is not a power play to kill my joy. God wants to lead me in love. He wants to walk with me in every area of life and to teach me His perspective, with His wisdom. What a gift that God extends to each of us the opportunity to take His hand and walk the roads of life together.

What about you? Are there areas in your life where you are attempting to run ahead of God - whether in sheer excitement, or in outright rebellion? Are there ways you are finding His pace too slow for your taste? Take these things to your loving Father and ask Him to give you the courage and the discipline to hold His hand through these roads of life. Remember afresh Who it is that extends His hand of love and protection to you.

Trust God to lead you to places and adventures you'd never dream. Rely on His sovereign and sufficient perspective. Hold His hand. Keep in step with His Spirit.

Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.