There is no denying I am a shoe lover. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a great pair of shoes — or fun kicks — or fabulous boots. And I’m comfortably certain I’m not alone.
Through the years I have learned many lessons from my adventures with these little friends. And though our love for shoes may be at times mocked, I believe a deeper look at them can demonstrate the amazing strength and purpose God gives to women, and the grace He gives us for the many hats — or more appropriately, shoes — we wear.
I can honestly say that my best days follow when I lace up my hiking boots. They are often days full of adventure — hiking, climbing and exploring God’s creation.
My husband, Tim, and I enjoy everything from the majesty of national parks to the simplicity of a quiet walk in the woods around our house. We enjoy our time together just walking and talking, or the surprise of coming around a bend to discover an incredible panoramic view.
Other days I step into those sturdy boots and onto long, difficult hours of trudging through disaster areas, slums and trash dumps all over the world – encountering people in the most heartbreaking situations on earth and bringing them a physical example of God’s love.
In those boots, I’ve learned that whether on the mountaintops or the lowest valleys, God is ever-present. His immeasurable joy can be found in very unexpected places. There is great joy in the wonder and beauty of God’s creation, just as there is in bearing one another’s burdens and lavishly sharing His love.
Most mornings before work, I head out for an early walk. It is not only great exercise but the time with God is priceless, so I spend a lot of time in my tennis shoes.
One time I got a pair that fit well and seemed perfect except for one thing — they had a squeak. A very annoying squeak with each and every step. Squeak, squeak, squeak…
For a while, I was patient, hopeful that in time they would break in and stop — but no such luck. They continued to nag at me mile after mile. Their unrelenting complaining grated on me, and our time together suffered because of it until one day I could take no more.
It made me think of how easy it is to be like those shoes — complaining incessantly until those around us are impacted and can’t tolerate it anymore. Or worse, become like us. I don’t want to be a squeaky tennis shoe.
Sure, we all complain sometimes. One day that favorite hiking boot was squeaking so I adjusted it and retied it–and it quit. Lesson noted: When I find myself complaining, I ask for God’s help to adjust and then, I just need to stop.
After all, I still have those boots. The tennis shoes are gone.
I got my first pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars in Junior High School. I grew up in Indiana, where playing basketball is as natural as drinking water, so those sneakers were the go-to.
Somewhere along the line, Chucks became the cool shoes to wear on and off the court, and I was at home in them everywhere. Today, more years later than I care to say, I still love and wear them. They’ve always been there for me, basically unchanging — they are comfortable, elevate every outfit and are just kind of, “me.”
Okay, Christ is far beyond a pair of tennis shoes, but hopefully you see where I am going here. I was blessed to walk with Him through those years too, and though I wasn’t always faithful, He was (see 2 Timothy 2:13). He’s never gone out of style; He elevates every situation and is unwaveringly dependable.
And even if the day comes that I’ve completely moved on from Chucks and into some stylish orthotics, I can rest assured that my relationship with God will always “fit” and just be a part of me.
SACRIFICE FOR THE GOSPEL
I used to have a pair of wonderfully comfy shoes that were perfect for travel because they slipped on and off easily and weren’t hot when the climate was.
After many happy trips together, my shoes and I unexpectedly parted ways in the Eastern European nation, Kosovo. We were visiting a lovely family in a desperately needy neighborhood. Our entire team politely removed our shoes before going into the apartment and left them just outside the door. When we went to leave, the guys’ shoes were right where we left them, but the girls’ (mine and another on the trip) were mysteriously gone.
We completed our work that day shoeless but eventually settled into the comfort that someone who needed them much more than we did would now have them.
I was never able to replace those same shoes but it was a sacrifice for the sake of sharing Christ and therefore one well worth making. Some girl with small feet got amazingly comfy shoes that once carried the Gospel. And who knows what God would do with that?
They’re trendy and won’t be in style long, but I have a pair of sweet, velvet combat boots that are so cute. They not only look great, but they have an inherent irony that I love. They are tough and soft at the same time.
As a leader, they remind me of who I must be. Firm in my convictions, ready to make tough decisions, tackle difficult challenges and fight for my team while remaining soft to the Spirit’s leading, gentle in correction and remembering that people always come first.
Velvet combat boots will go out of style, but great leadership will not.
Finally, every girl needs a fabulous pair of heels in which they can actually walk. Mine came to me like a gift from above last year just in time for the annual Women’s Conference. They not only look great, but I can wear them for hours without the customary pain.
The best part is that in those shoes we had the privilege of sharing God’s love and Word with 24,000 women, and thousands accepted him as savior.
My heels remind me of the constant truth in Romans 10:15, “Beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News.” While it is true that at times representing the Gospel can hurt a bit, it is always a beautiful thing. This time, my shoes were pretty and my feet felt great too. A little wink from God to this shoe lover.
Ginger Stache is the Chief Creative Officer of Joyce Meyer Ministries.