Tennis shoes - and the Christian faith.

I LOVE new tennis shoes!
Clean, bright, unfaded, ready-to-walk-a-thousand-miles shoes!
I like to look at them, keep them in the box so they "stay clean," and walk around the house to enjoy the squishiness of the new soles.
Of course, I know the newness will not last. The first splash of mud, the first step in grease, wear and tear ... all of them will happen soon enough and then my fun, new, perfect shoes will become plain, old, everyday shoes.
If I was independently wealthy I would have a dozen pair lined up in my closet and rotate them each month. Since I am not independently wealthy, and only have two feet to cover at a time, however, I only own one pair. I wear them down to the thread, eagerly waiting for the day when I can choose brand-new shoes.
And it is a process.
I used to wear a size 11.
Now, I am sporting a size 12. Yep. You read that right. A TWELVE. (see photo for proof!)
When you are on the tail end of the sizing chart your options are limited. My size 8-1/2 friends can pick up shoes at any discount store on the planet. Nice, name-brand, drastically discounted shoes by the dozens. Me? The size "10 and up" rack looks like someone emptied a circus trunk on the shelves! Who wears neon green, patent leather sneakers, I ask you? Who?! (I need to start taking photos of the shoes I find in these places or no one will believe me.)
Because of my elongated foot, my best option is to order five or six pairs of shoes online (shipped to and from for free), try them all on, select the one that fits best, and return the rest.
For me, the excitement of shopping for shoes has been tempered, but the thrill of owning a new pair of shoes will never lose its luster!

The other day, while staring at my new purple beauties (because, of course, I cannot actually WEAR them the first day I get them ... I just look at them), it struck me that everything I experience in my search-for-shoes-that-fit-a-size-12-foot saga is much like the Christian life.

The day the Lord saves us we are on FIRE!
We are excited! Full of enthusiasm! We want to tell the world about this new Jesus we have met!
Everyone notices that something is different about us. We seem joyful, exuberant, and ready to face the world.
We love reading the Word because everything seems ALIVE. Exciting. FRESH.
We count the hours until it is time for church.
We are excited to be with other believers.
There are not enough sermons, podcasts, articles, blogs, or devotionals to satisfy us.
We keep talking about our salvation to anyone who will listen.
We feel close to God and are completely confident in His love for us.

And then someone close to us dies.
A friend betrays us.
We lose our job.
We miscarry.
Our child is molested.
We get cancer.
Our husband wants someone other than us.
Our adult children walk away from the faith.
We feel completely alone.

And our enthusiasm for Christ, like a brand-new pair of tennis shoes, begins to fade.

But just as we endure with dirty, faded tennis shoes, walking and running, chasing children, pulling weeds, running errands, taking trash cans to the curb and climbing jungle gyms at the park until it is time to replace them with brightly-colored NEW shoes ...
we must also endure the trials and sorrows and difficulties of life while loving our spouses, serving our families, worshiping with the body, respecting authority, working with integrity, and giving thanks in every circumstance until the Lord chooses to replace the dark shadows with a NEW joy and a BRIGHT hope.

We may not be cloaked with the passion of our newly-found faith every minute of the day as we run the marathon of the Christian life, but the thrill of knowing we belong to an amazing, loving, gracious, and merciful God should never, ever lose its luster!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:3-9

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