“What does the word restore mean?” I asked my four grandchildren who were memorizing the 23rd Psalm over lunch.
It’s like making something new again,” they concluded.
“What does it mean to restore my soul?” I questioned further, “And what is your soul anyway?”
“It’s who I am. It’s my personality,” Haddie exclaimed.
“It’s me inside,” Joey added, pointing at his chest.
“Yup,” agreed Kate, “that’s what it means.”
Meanwhile, four-year-old Will sat quietly listening to the discussion with a smug look on his face. “What do you think soul means?” I asked him.
Pulling his foot up as high as he could, he proudly exclaimed, “it’s the bottom of your shoe!” I wondered what he had been thinking about the phrase “he restores my soul” and suddenly I saw a connection.
Yes, Jesus restores my soul. But He also restores my soles.
In Deuteronomy 29: 5, we read that “Yet the LORD says, ‘During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.’ ” He sustained the Israelites through their entire wilderness experience. And he will do the same for us.
I believe the Bible promise that “His yoke is easy and His burden is light” and I am trying to make this my daily perspective. For a driven person who is prone to being overly responsible, life becomes too heavy without this life-giving view. Therefore, then I begin to feel burdened and overwhelmed, I am learning to pause and examine what it really is that concerns me. What am I carrying in my heart that is not mine to bear? What am I feeling responsible for that isn’t mine to take on?
As Apostle Paul so eloquently states in the start of Hebrews 12, we are to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” I gained an incomplete picture of this analogy however. I was taught to imagine Jesus standing at the finish line with arms open wide ready to welcome me to heaven, that I would stay the course by keeping my eyes on Jesus who had won the race for me in advance.
Paul’s analogy about life being a race is actually very fitting. My life is a race that God has set before me. I am running a long cross-country race, one that is full of curves, as well as both ups and downs.
But for years, I missed a vital part of this imagery, and well into the race, my shoes almost wore out.
I did keep slugging along but my pace was never fast enough, my style was never perfect enough, and my progress was never far enough along. Plus I was weary and thirsty much of the time.
I had grown to believe that it was my duty to run for Jesus – to strive for Him. Thus I became overly responsible, trying to assume not only what God had called me to be responsible for, but trying to take on His roles as well:
- If I just prayed hard enough with the right words, someone would be healed.
- If I pressed hard enough, I could change the heart of another person.
- If I parented well enough, all would turn out good for my children.
- If I did all the right things, the desired outcomes would occur.
I failed to grasp that Jesus is not merely out in front of me. Nor is He simply beside me. Rather, He is in Me where I daily gain my sustenance from Him. He is deep in my heart fueling me and renewing me both when I am running well and also when I have fallen or gotten off track. I must look to Him in order to run from His strength because He is the living water within me that will never run dry.
He restores my soul and also the soles of my shoes. When I live from Him, my shoes will not wear out.
This is a vital message of the gospel that we must teach our children and model for them so that they don’t find themselves sidelined, with worn out shoes, and decide to drop out of the race.
Next blog: What are we really responsible for? What are our kids responsible for? How can we guide our kids to neither be irresponsible OR overly responsible but gain clarity over what God calls us to be responsible for.