Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Made for walking

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

~ Colossians 3:12-15


Yes, I know what you’re thinking:  Jen is blogging about shoes?  Jen? I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t know a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s if they hit me in the head [I had to google the brand, to be sure I had it correct.  Side note: $1,500 for shoes?!  Are you kidding me?].  In actuality, this installment is more about choice than footwear.  About growing up, putting on our big girl shoes, and walking out our faith.

After reading Colossians 3: 12-15, let me ask you: how quickly do you forgive?  How patient are you?  How humble?  Frankly, how evident are the fruits of the Spirit in your life?  (Oh don’t worry, I’ve been asking myself these very questions of late; and the answers weren’t what I was hoping.)  For a moment, let’s just agree that none of us posses these qualities to their fullest.  So how do we go about getting them?  In truth, this process is a journey, very like a mountain climb, with the love of our life waiting patiently at the top.

First, we have to recognize that we can not attain these on our own.  Only the Holy Spirit can bring this fruit into our lives.  Once we are indwelt (through belief in and a life surrendered to Jesus Christ), we receive the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit; in that, we are able to be completely transformed and therefore exhibit these qualities.  Secondly, we have to draw closer to Christ; through prayer, reading Scripture, and worship.  And the closer we come to Him, the more we yearn for Him.  In gaining intimacy with Jesus, He calls us to finally surrender everything to Him.  Our desires, our pasts, our emotions…everything.

We each are being called to deeper intimacy with the Lover of our Souls.  And we each are faced with choices:
  1. To heed this call and head up the mountain or stay exactly where we are – distant from Christ and His amazing love
  2. How to make the journey

Assuming that we choose to embark upon the climb up the mountain, we have to decide how to clothe ourselves for this trek.  We can select worldly garments; emotions or behaviors that look like the rest of the world.  We can opt for comfortable clothes; mannerisms that are familiar, well-practiced.  Or we can choose attire that reflects our journey; sensible actions, though seemingly out of place, that help our climb, ferry us closer to our destination.

We have to recognize our choice in this process.  We are not called to feel humble, forgiven, or loving.  We are told to clothe ourselves with these attributes.  To purposefully select and then put on these behaviors.  Like going into our closet everyday, we don’t feel shoes on our feet.  We choose what to put on.  And we have to keep our mountain climb in mind when selecting our footwear.

Looking like the world:  These shoes make me feel good.  No, they aren’t comfortable and yes, they hurt my feet.  But, they make me feel like I look good.  They’re my “I want people to think I’m put together” shoes.  My “notice me” shoes.

Pride.  Anger.  Bitterness.  These are emotions the world expects, and to an extent admires when we wear them.  When wronged, it makes sense to seek vengeance, to exult our selfish agendas over other’s needs.  To put ourselves first.

But these are utterly ridiculous for climbing a mountain. Wearing them guarantees a fall, and a potentially debilitating injury.  I will be sitting on the side of the trail, not making any progress towards to the top, nursing wounds brought on by wearing these foolish shoes on a serious hike.

These emotions do more harm to me than not.  They may look good, in the world’s eyes; but they are slowly crippling me.

Comfortable shoes: These shoes reflect familiar patterns.  The ones we’ve been practicing for years.  Our behavioral habits that say, “I’m comfortable here.”  Doubt.  Insecurity.  Striving.  I know these; they’re well-worn, molded to my foot after years of wear.  At the end of the day, it’s so much easier to put these on.  When I’m tired, when I let my guard down.  When I am weak.  I turn to these out of habit.  They certainly don’t compliment any outfit I own.  I look silly wearing them in public.

And again, they are ridiculous for climbing a mountain.  Wearing these, every little rock or thorn will pierce my skin through the soles.  They will gather and hold brambles.  I could, possibly make it to the top of the mountain wearing these.  But it will take far too long.  I will be in constant pain; and I will despise the journey.  Most likely I won’t make it far.  I will be forced, by injury (whether minor or more serious) to abandon my climb.  To be stagnant.  And lonely.

Hiking boots: They really don’t go with much; they don’t attract attention of people around me.  I don’t put them on at the end of the day seeking comfort.  But in heading up the mountain, these are the shoes that will protect me from rocks, from hurting my ankles. They will give me traction and help speed me along my climb.  I won’t arrive at the top with blisters, or thorns hanging off the sides.  In these, I will see the vista promised me.

Forgiveness.  Love.  Humility.  Certainly not behaviors the world admires.  Each takes work; they aren’t as easy or familiar as our current habits.  And yet, choosing to clothe ourselves with these will bring us into a more intimate relationship with our Lord.

It’s our choice.  We must clothe ourselves appropriately.

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