It was not so very long ago that I felt like quitting. I had just about given up on my faith journey. The pain was too great, the challenges too hard, the hurdles too high, and my body and mind too exhausted. Some people experience spiritual attack and difficult places in their journey for seasons. In my case, I have had virtually no reprieve for decades. It has been one seemingly insurmountable thing in my life after another for so very long I could not picture my life with the abundance promised by Jesus Christ for those who believe in Him. Just recently, I have experienced another hard season. But this time, God did not simply pour into me His love and more of His Word. This time, God gave me a new pair of sneakers. But why?
I believe the Lord encourages us in all sorts of ways if we are open and sensitive enough to hear from Him in whatever way He chooses to speak to us. In this case, I remember what I learned long ago about the sport of running. Real runners, the good ones, only wear their running shoes until they are “shot.” I do not know how they determine when exactly that happens, but I do know the most dedicated runners know when to throw away their old shoes and to invest in new ones. For their safety, their health, and their longevity as runners, and of course to do their very best in the sport, runners know how vital it is to pay attention when it is time for a new pair of shoes.
When God used two generous men yesterday to hand me my new pair of walking shoes, I know what God was saying. Just as I wrote in an article yesterday, the Lord had used the words of my fellow walkers and runners yesterday morning to teach me the encouraging words, “Great job. You’re almost there!” Well, God has made an investment in me. He has called me to love and serve Him along with His Creation, and He wants me in tip top shape. When He handed me the new sneakers, He was saying, “Lara, you’ve come so far already. Your shoes are worn out from how much walking you’ve already done. Now carry on. I am giving you a new pair of sneakers for your faith walk forward.”
But this is not all. I believe God was saying: “Do not quit. Do not give up. I know you are tired. I know you are worn. I know your feet feel they have walked enough. I know you are out of breath from all the exercise. But the race is not finished yet. And the best is yet to come. But I do not want you to walk in the shoes you have already worn out. I love you, and I want you to have my very best. We are walking this course together, and I am teaching you to walk by faith. Please put on these new sneakers I have given you, allow your body and mind to rest, and walk forward with me leading you. We will walk together. Even though I lead, I also walk beside you. Your walk is never alone. You walk with me, and I with you. Pay attention to me as I teach you to pace yourself. Do not focus on the other walkers and runners. Keep your eyes and your heart on me.”
I can imagine God bending down now and lovingly tying my shoelaces. Do you remember how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet? God loves us so much that He will even bend down to put new shoes on our feet and to tie our shoelaces as He encourages us not to quit.
The words on the front page of my recently released book called “Slow Dance with Jesus: Inspiration for Intimacy with the Lord” are, “Written by a woman who walked a long, hard broken road barefoot to get to the dance.”
My feet are no longer barefoot. Just as the Lord clothes me in a robe of righteousness, He washes my feet and gently, tenderly places then in new sneakers to continue on in my faith walk with Him.
When I tried on my new sneakers, I immediately felt like I was walking on air.
“Should I wear them on today’s walk?” I asked the gift givers. I didn’t know if I should wear brand new sneakers on a 6 mile fast walk in the extremely hot weather.
“Sure,” one of the men replied.
And I did. I continued forward in my faith walk with the Lord. I did not have a single blister when I was through with the six miles, only a sense of satisfaction that I have decided not to quit walking no matter how hard my walk has been thus far.
Thank you God for my new sneakers. Thank you God for the men you used to give them to me. Thank you God that I never walk alone. Thank you God for teaching me to walk by faith. Thank you God that we walk this road together – new sneakers and all.