My boys (Matthew–19 months, and Noah–four years old) love to wear shoes. More specifically, they love to wear other people’s shoes. This week I observed as Matthew put on Noah’s, and Noah put on mine. An awkward game of chase ensued, with the two of them attempting to run through the house with clown feet. I smiled as I watched, seeing them clomp through the kitchen and stumble, pick themselves back up and march on again–laughing as they went.
We never really escape the lessons of childhood. All of us are called to wear shoes entirely too big for us. 1 Peter 2:21 says, ‘For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.’ Those are steps too big to fill, and I stumble along the path which has been set for me. I cannot always laugh about it, however. Being a human being often means facing our limitations, and if God is at work in us, we will be frequently aware–both of the beauty of that calling we have received in Christ, and the stumbling and broken path we take. The reality is sobering.
Matthew 5:48 says, ‘Therefore, be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.’ Certainly this only serves to deepen the exasperation of one trying to walk as Jesus walked. I am very grateful that I have a perfect Father, who does not change like the shifting shadows–that is a rock upon which I can build and depend. Yet I do not know what it means to be perfect when I am a mess.
After the boys had run around the house for a while, I took my youngest and held him by the hands and guided him through the kitchen. He didn’t fall. He could walk up the stairs. His toddling frame was steady, because he was upheld by the strength of someone else.
It is a lifetime to learn what that means, how we walk and stand and live in the strength of another. Paul, the writer of the book of 2 Corinthians did not run from his inadequacy to fulfill Matthew 5:48 or 1 Peter 2:21, but rather said:
But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The Christian life is about daily coming to the end of ourselves, lamenting our brokenness, and holding up our hands so that God can fill them. Then the praise does not go to us as good trail followers, but to the One who guides and strengthens our feet as we ask Him. So we continue to wear our shoes, awkward and ungainly though they are, knowing that the broken path we cut is made straight and clear through Christ and His power, which mightily works within us. (Colossians 1:29)