By: Katie Messer
Have you ever gone through a time in your life that was so difficult, so truly straining that you wondered if you would make it through? Then once on the other side, you realize that you are not at all the same person whom entered the trial prior to the journey?
You not only can take courage in the reality that you are not alone, but you are also be encouraged within the hardship by the words of Jesus Christ. Just before Jesus was to be crucified, by the very ones He had come to earth to rescue, He spoke these words to His disciples.
“Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32-33 NASB)
This evening as my husband began to buff his leather shoes, an object lesson was born before our eyes. The worn down, dull looking leather shoes really needed some loving. And as my husband and I spoke of our own current hardships, the Lord began to reveal to our hearts just how poignant this lesson from some walking leather applied to our Christian lives.
For those who have never shined a leather shoe, like myself, it is a beautiful process to witness. A dull and seemingly worthless shoe is given new life through the careful and skillful attention of the shoe owner. Through the use of polish and a coarse brush, what was once dull and worn out, truly begins to shine like new leather.
As my husband brushed one of the shoes, he asked me if it was 20:08 yet (military time). I looked at the clock and stated that it was only 20:06. Upon hearing this, my husband said, “I need to let the polish sit on the other shoe until 20:08. I will leave it on a little longer.”
We then began to think about the hardships that we are currently experiencing—that are being used to draw us closer to the Lord. And with each minute that the hardship stays within our lives, much like the polish upon the shoe leather, there is a purpose. And at the appointed time, just the perfect time, the shoe owner brushes away the polish to reveal the brilliant shine on the newly revitalized leather. How true is this of our Christian lives!
Each piece of leather is carefully selected and placed to create the desired shoe. Regardless of whether or not a person walking through a shoe store can see, let alone appreciate the detail of the certain footwear, the shoemaker knew exactly what he hoped to accomplish in making the shoe. The shoe itself does not understand its own capabilities, however the shoemaker does. And it is only through being worn that the shoe is able to really see its full potential.
Much like a leather shoe, as Christians, we too become worn down and our outlook can even become dull. It is in these times that we are to call upon the Lord in honest prayer for His refreshment as we openly share our situations with Him. Praise God that we can bring all things before the Lord through prayer (1 Peter 5:7). As we ask for strength to endure our present hardship, a fresh peace and strengthening of His divine purpose begins to shine through the polish of the difficult situation to give way to His ultimate purpose—our refinement for His eternal glory and our ultimate joy.
“For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.” (Psalm 66:10-13 NASB)
Regardless of the chaotic situation you may find yourself in today, there is hope in Jesus’ name! If you are struggling with depression, hopelessness, a lack of purpose or finding it hard to find the joy that you once received—rest. Although you may not be able to see through the think polish that coats your present reality, ask the Lord to give you perspective on how to praise Him through the difficulty—with the knowledge that He is using this present hardship to further refine your heart and character to more truly reflect His glory.
“I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the LORD better than an ox or a young bull with horns and hoofs. The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.” (Psalm 69:30-32 NASB)
Let your heart revive. How beautiful to grasp hold of the truth that no matter what has worn your heart down or waged war against your spirit, there is hope in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Just as the shoe is willing to go where the owner walks, so we as Christians, must be willing to walk the mountaintops and valleys where the Lord takes us. Why? Because with each step that we are willing to further surrender our lives to the Maker, the more our likeness will better reflect His and radiate His glory. Despite what we can see, or not see, from our current situations, praise God that there is hope and divine purpose for each day in Jesus’ name!
Photo Cred: Kelly Sikkema
Katie was blessed by God to have married her best friend and they have two other blessings whom are their children. Katie holds a BA in International Relations and in Latin American Studies from California State University, Chico. Katie is pursuing a MA in Professional Counseling from Liberty University Online. She enjoys Spanish as well as Arabic. One can find Katie with her family at the local camel races, towering sand dunes, laughing in their backyard or cooking aromatic foods near their current home in the Middle East. Katie is a passionate speaker and writer of God’s hope and healing in the lives of every woman, from every background and every culture around the globe.