Lately, I have been noticing the size of people’s feet. Janet and I have watched quite a few of the grandchildren’s soccer games this fall and I can’t believe how big these little kids’ feet are! They’re huge… Perhaps some of it is the way shoes are made today but things are sure a lot different than they were when I was growing up.
For instance, we only wore flip-flops at the beach. And we weren’t there very often. And the only time we could wear “gym” shoes was when we were in gym. Go figure. Now, it seems that anything goes. There are velcro straps instead of shoe laces, and many kids don’t even know how to tie their shoes. The same goes for telling time – we have so many digital clocks around us now that children don’t know how to tell time on traditional clocks. That’s a shame….
Maybe I am a little sensitive to the whole shoes thing. As a child, I had rather serious foot problems. In fact, I still do. Although I can’t remember all the way back, I am told that I had to wear a contraption at night to make sure that my feet were straight. And from my earliest recollections, I was never able to walk out of a shoe store wearing my new shoes. They all had to be sent out to be modified with “bars and heels” on the bottoms to make them workable for me. I could only wear tie shoes and never owned a pair of loafers until Janet and I were married. And then, only once in a while.
In fact, last night I wore a pair of slip-ons to the symphony and I have been paying the price all day today. I have custom shoe inserts that I pretty much have to wear all the time and I can tell when they need to be refurbished because I get a sore back and my neck tends to lock up. I am living proof that joint pain and muscle discomfort is very much connected to how you walk and the condition of your feet. I still have to be careful how much I walk, and the docs don’t even want me working on a treadmill; so most of my exercise is on a recumbent bike.
When I was a child, each year I had two pairs of shoes. The newest pair was called my Sunday shoes – because I wore them to church, and the old Sunday pair became my everyday pair for school. It wasn’t like we had much to choose from. Two pairs total – usually black – until we outgrew them, and then we had to get new shoes. But today, kids have more shoes than I had in my whole childhood. And almost all of them are “gym” shoes. I can’t remember the last time I saw a young kid in what I still call “dress” shoes.
But I’m a little off track here. The point is that as we grow, we get more confident in how we walk and run. But in the beginning, regardless of the shoes that we have, we all take baby steps. First we crawl, then we hesitantly walk, and finally we learn to run. The same is true in our spiritual “walk.”
When a person accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, their spiritual walk begins. Over time, as they become more committed in strengthening their faith, they are able to understand deeper theological truths and to become more mature in their faith. The Gospel of John is a great illustration of this idea. It is the best book in the Bible for a new believer to read – easy to understand and almost childlike in its simplicity. But as a person grows in their faith, the book of John challenges them at different theological levels. It is one of those books that a person can read at any time in their spiritual walk – and it continues to provide God’s truth all the days of your life.
Paul and other writers of the Scriptures compare our spiritual journey to food. New believers are fed milk, then soft food and finally as they mature, solid food. The key is to make sure that you are eating what is right for you for where you are in your walk. In 1 Peter 2:2, we are told, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” And the writer of Hebrews takes it a step further when he rebukes the people for not learning as much as they could. He tells them in Heb. 5:12-13, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” In other words, try to advance to solid food, so you can learn more of the truths about God.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that God does not want you to go hungry. Whether you are new to the faith and crave “milk”, or whether you are mature in the faith and love “solid” food, there is always room to grow. And it’s quite okay if you are taking baby steps. Because some day, you will be walking, and then running, to Christ. My prayer is that you will be deliberate in your journey and learn the basics before you try to advance too far too quickly. A slow, steady pace is the best way to develop good spiritual disciplines and, of course, I encourage you to learn from someone who is more spiritually mature than you are. Everybody needs a mentor. And someday, you will be the one helping somebody taking baby steps….. and teaching them how to walk in the way of the Lord.