As our women’s Sunday School class broke into small groups and bowed our heads to pray, I studied our shoes. Oh, I know I should have closed my eyes, but at that pre-prayer moment, the shoes caught my attention: one pair of solid, practical, well-used running shoes worn with white socks; one pair of comfy suede flats, neatly brushed to disguise signs of wear on the toes; a pair of fashionable, black, open-toe pumps on stockinged feet; and a set of lime green flip-flops with large, pink, plastic flowers on top.
I closed my eyes then, but even as we shared in prayer, my mind danced with the differences in our shoes, our personalities, our roles.
SuAnn of the sturdy tennis shoes takes care of her elderly husband who is now confined to a wheel chair as the result of an accident. She must be practical, but she is also kind and compassionate.
The comfy suedes belong to me. I’m at the age where style and comfort wage war with every pair of shoes I purchase. The suedes fit both categories and they’re not expensive.
Danielle paints houses for a contractor. She’s as meticulous with her painting as she is with her appearance, and her pumps demonstrate the fact.
Callie is a teenager who seems to be able to wear whatever she wants and still look great. Her flip-flops reflect her youthful spirit, which in her case is connected firmly to her joyful commitment to the Lord.
Variety, diversity—the spice of life. God has created us as diverse as the shoes we choose. I’m convinced He delights in the potpourri of personalities He observes in His creatures.
Why then do we judge and criticize our brothers and sisters in the Lord? Why do we raise our eyebrows at SuAnn’s lack of style, or frown at Callie’s free spirit? When we judge others, are we not indirectly disapproving of God’s creativity?
Paul recognized our God-given diversity when he wrote, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (I Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV).
He continues in verse 11: “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
God has, in His ultimate wisdom, created us unique from one another. Let us look at the differences as complementary, as parts of a whole, respecting and encouraging one another in our varied roles.
Prayer: Lord, may I learn to walk comfortably in the shoes you have designed for me. May I also have the confidence, from you, to encourage my brothers and sisters on their respective journeys, no matter how different their shoes may be from mine. Amen.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/michie/4064495568/”>Michelle Gow</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>