This is the story of my favorite kind of sandal, Birkenstocks, and how God used them to teach me more about life than any textbook ever could.
Eighteen bucks on eBay sounded like a steal, so I ordered my first pair of goofy sandals on a day when I was feeling pretty good about myself a few years ago. My friends and I thought we could definitely pull these things off, and so eventually we all got our hands on some used Birkenstocks. Used is almost an understatement here, because the sandals that came in the mail a week later looked like they had been worn heavily by a bear.
Man, when those things came, they were beat up and worn down, and they barely had a sole left at all on the bottom. The worst part is Birkenstocks are meant to form to your own individual foot, and mine were already shaped like the bottom of someone else’s foot. I was in too deep at that point, and I still thought I could pull them off regardless. So, the next day at school, I proudly came to school wielding the two-strapped, off-colored things like they were a prized possession. Let me just say, I have never been more relentlessly teased and joked over something in my life than those shoes. I could barely walk the halls without catching a dozen odd glances at my feet. But I was confident in them and they were ridiculously comfortable once they shaped to my own foot, so I bravely pushed on and kept wearing them. Honestly, I didn’t care what people thought, because I really thought they looked rad. I wore those things all Summer long until my Mom finally got sick of that dilapidated pair and bought me a nicer pair from a real store, not off eBay, which I still wear.
From all the tireless jokes about my goofy sandals, I realized something awesome. I realized that it didn’t matter at all what other people thought of me, especially if I was confident about what I was doing. So my confidence grew a lot because I kept wearing those sandals, and I stopped being concerned with what other people said about them. More importantly, when I decided that I didn’t care what people thought of my appearance, then I also had to stop caring if people judged me for my faith in Jesus.
I started thinking less and less about other peoples’ perception of me, and more and more about how I could love other people and show them Jesus- because I didn’t care what they thought of me, so I had nothing to lose. And I started telling more people about my faith, living it out in more practical ways, and I became more bold about God.
God uses small things to make big changes in our lives. In John 6, when Jesus asks his disciples how they could possibly feed five thousand hungry people, Andrew comes forward and says, “Here’s a boy with a few loaves of bread and a few fish, but it’s not much.” When Andrew gives Jesus this small, seemingly insignificant thing, Jesus takes it and multiplies it to make a huge impact. Like God used those $18 sandals to help me stop striving for acceptance, Jesus takes that small offering of bread and fish and satisfied five thousand different people.
Sometimes it’s even smaller things that God uses. Every once in a while I feel a nudge in my mind to go talk to a stranger or smile at someone in the halls- possibly a totally insignificant thing to do. A lot of times, though, I think God uses these little actions of love to bring someone closer to Him, one hallway-smile at a time. Loving people is the best evidence of God we can ever prove, so next time you feel a little nudge telling you to do some small act of kindness, listen to it. God might just use it to bring Him glory.
Next time you’re in the market for some sandals, I recommend checking eBay for a pair. And next time you think doing something seems insignificant at the moment, check back from God’s perspective, and listen to the One who sees way bigger than you or me ever could.