Small Things, Big God.

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.

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Unwrapping Cancer

A lot of times, God does crazy things in our lives. It’s stuff that looks really good or maybe doesn’t look like it’ll be good at all, but usually God does something big, especially if we’re getting too comfortable on the Earth.

Something crazy happened in my life a few months ago, something I could’ve never seen coming. My Dad, a serious warrior for Christ, got diagnosed with stage 4 appendix cancer. And that sucks. A lot. I can’t say that everything is still fine, because some days at my house, it isn’t. But we’re leaning into God like a sailboat leaning hard into blistering sea.

Often, gifts of grace come from the Lord that are plainly and obviously gifts. But sometimes, gifts from the Lord take way longer than others to unwrap. To my family and I, that’s what cancer is right now.

There’s this awesome guy named Bob Goff who wrote a book called Love Does, which is about the way God loves us and what we should do about it, and in this book, Bob Goff talks about how being a Christian can sometimes seem like we’re making big, hard sacrifices for the Lord. Bob also talks about a game called Bigger & Better in his book. I used to play this game at church retreats as a kid, and basically you start out with something with little value, like a dime, and go door-to-door trying to get neighbors to trade the dime for something bigger and better than what you started with. When I played, we ended up with a surfboard and a new pool table. Sometimes in life, it feels a lot like we’re giving up things to follow Jesus, things that are fun or comfortable. And from an Earthly perspective, we are giving things up, things like parties and having a life full of money and even giving up our own popularity. But to Jesus, giving these things up isn’t a sacrifice at all. When we knock on God’s door, we give him all that we have, which is practically nothing, and he gives us Himself in return. That’s no sacrifice, that is the best game of Bigger & Better ever played.

Cancer, some days, feels a lot like this. It seems like a huge sacrifice, like there’s a lot that we have to give up. In some ways, there is, but not from God’s perspective. We are giving God everything we have, and in return, He is giving Himself. I know God is going to use my Dad’s cancer to wreck my family and I for Him, and hopefully we can bring people around us to Him along the way.

Already my Dad and all of us are seeing God move through cancer. My Dad told me the other day that now at work, he can freely tell people about his faith, because no one is going to stop a man with cancer. God has been so gracious to us through other people, and we’ve realized how wildly loved we are. God is teaching us about leaning into Him and trusting Him more and more, and in the process He’s drawn the five of us all even closer as a family.

Sometimes, God does crazy things. But I think this is one of those things that takes a long time to unwrap, and I know it will bring glory to God in the end.