When I get ready for a hot date with my hubby, I get my hair on point, my makeup on, and then slip into that great black dress that’s sure to make him have lustful thoughts of me all through dinner. I then go into my closet and scan over my collection of shoes, trying to find that perfect pair to top off the look. I know a pair of high heels would be like putting the icing on the cake but instead I have to settle for the lame, flat, black sandals. My circumstances through illness, don’t allow me to wear the high heels. I can try and suck it up. Put my feet in the heels, and suffer through the night. Leaving me in the end… a hot mess. Or I can wear the flat, sandals. The less glamorous choice. They may not be ideal for the look I’m going for. They may not be what I had planned but they are the shoes that will get me through the night. They are the shoes, that at the finish of the date, will leave me pain free and functioning.
We all have an idea of where we want our lives to go. We make plans for our future and get excited about them. None of those plans include illness or a death or a divorce. We would never add those things to our plans. Our plan will never include the things that will stretch us or make us uncomfortable. Our plans will never include struggle, pain, suffering…Our plans would leave us right where we are. Emotionally, spiritually. I’m so grateful I’m not the same Emilee I was at 20. 20 year old Emilee was more selfish with her time. She was more judgmental. She got out of control anxious when the house was messy and cluttered. She was angry and couldn’t let go of past hurts. She didn’t rely on God to solve her problems. She was way more insecure!
You know that verse in 1 Corinthians 12:12 that says, “there is one body, but it has many parts. But all it’s many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ.” When I would read that verse I would think my friend Sherri is probably something cool, like the arm. It has all these uses and mobility and strength. And then my other friends Genie and JoAnn are like the elbows. The part the arm has to have to even be able to bend! But me… I’m probably the appendix. You know, the body part that you can remove and not really notice. Through illness and struggle, though, God has changed me. He’s healed many emotional wounds that were keeping me from true freedom. He was giving me truth in a world full of lies. This is never the plans I would have made for myself. Especially for my family. These plans were and are incredibly hard. They continually make me struggle. They cause lots of temper tantrums, rebellion, avoiding, despair, and then eventually surrender.
Oh! Side note, my husband had to get his appendix removed a few years ago and he’s kind of a weirdo with his body. Anyway, he seriously mourned the loss of his appendix and regrets getting it removed. He still feels like there was more he could have done to save it. How sweet is that? God gave me a man who values his appendix!
There’s a phrase I hear often that makes me very uncomfortable and that is, “God won’t give you more then you can handle.” This isn’t truth and it isn’t helpful. In fact I would say it can be detrimental. When your circumstances just flat out stink and you are in such despair, hearing ‘God won’t give you more then you can handle’ might make you feel like a failure or weak in your faith. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” In context, this verse is talking about temptation from sin, not suffering. Paul explains a trial too large for him to handle in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” You WILL be given more then you can handle but we have a Father who will give us the strength that we don’t have. You have to depend on God to get through. Saying “God won’t give you more then you can handle,” keeps us focused on our self and our own strength. Realizing you are in a pit and can only survive on God’s strength, keeps God in His rightful place.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Rely on God to get you through those unbearable times. You were never meant to “handle” it. When I finally quit my tantrums and surrender to God, I get to see the real treasure of God’s plans for my life.
I have two pairs of heels, that I’ve had sitting in my closet for 8 years. Untouched. I can’t let them go. Even though they are a constant reminder of my limitations. They sit there and taunt me. But I can’t get rid of them. I always think, maybe one day.
About 4 years ago I was out shopping and I saw these incredibly cute heels. They were adorable and could go with practically anything! I couldn’t help myself. I had to buy them, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to wear them. But I just thought, surely some day soon, I’ll be better and when I am, those are the shoes I’m wearing! 4 years later there they sat. Never worn, never shown off, never appreciated for how awesome they were.
My church was having a garage sale as a fundraiser to help send people over to Haiti. I went through my house finding things to get rid of. I got to my closet and saw my amazing shoes that never did get their well deserved debut. I took a deep breath and put them in the bag. 5 minutes later I took them out of the bag. I was struggling to let them go. I felt like I was giving up hope that I would never be well enough to wear them. And what if I am healed and those precious shoes were gone! I grabbed them back from the bag, whispered sweet nothings to them and apologized while putting them back in the closet and moved on. About 5 minutes later I returned to the closet and grabbed the stupid shoes that now had become my enemy and put them in the bag. I mourned the loss as I gathered more and more things, making the shoes fall further to the bottom.
I was trying to hold onto a past that was not my future. I’m not saying God won’t ever heal me. I know He has complete power and authority over my illness. But by not letting go of the shoes I was keeping myself in bondage to my limitations. If you have something in your life that keeps you from seeing God’s plans for you because it reminds you of what could have been or it brings up regret, guilt, shame, whatever, just get rid of it!
Hebrews 12:1 says: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”
Those high heels were a weight. They no longer were something I was excited to one day wear but had now become a weight. A heavy load of why am I not better yet? I had to get rid of the weight and trust that God’s plan for me right now, is to wear flat, shoes! (insert crying face)
The Message Bible says this about Hebrews 12:1 and I really liked it:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves lagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Isn’t that a great picture? Going over your story of where God has taken you will shoot adrenaline into your souls!!! It’s so true. God has done so much in our lives. We need to take note. Pay attention. Go over it. Share it. Let it motivate us to keep running the race. The path that God has set before us.
The next verse Hebrews 12:2 says: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus trusted the path set before Him by his Father. He stayed on that path and didn’t waiver.
I mentioned before that I had two pairs of heels that sat in the closet untouched for 8 years, before buying the third pair. Well, I do still have those two pairs. One, they are a much shorter heel so way more realistic. Second, they don’t make me sad. Probably because they are just average and not those amazing cute ones. I keep them because they are a goal but a goal that doesn’t leave me sad and hopeless. The adorable shoes made me sad every time I saw them. I had a choice. I really could hold onto them and torture my soul. We all have a choice. We can decide to be victims, We can quit, we can go against God, we can find our own paths. That is our choice. But it won’t take you to a place of healing and rest. It will keep you from true peace. God’s plan may look harder but it’s the very best plan for you. Proverbs 16:9 says: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” And when you put that next to Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” You can trust His plan. He isn’t trying to harm you. He isn’t trying to make your path so miserable. He is strengthening you and refining you so you will have hope and a future.
My desire was a high heel life but God’s plan for me was a flip flop life. The flat flip flop life ended up being the blessing.
We have a good and loving Father. He calls you His child (John 1:12), His friend (John 15:15), He calls you justified (Romans 3:24), an heir (Romans 8:17), He calls you accepted (Romans 15:7), righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21), blameless (Ephesians 1:4), Redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), Sealed (Ephesians 1:13), a work of art (Ephesians 2:10) forgiven (1 John 1:9), He calls you greatly loved (Romans 5:8).
You can absolutely take the path He is leading you on. You don’t need to fear it and take your own “short cuts.” Walk boldly, the path set before you. In whatever shoes God has given you!
I’m deeply sorry for whatever struggle you may be going through right now and would love to pray for you. Leave a comment if you’d like prayer! Rest in God dear friend. He has a plan for you that is good!