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Lacing up for the gospel walk

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My oldest daughter is in Grade 1 this year. On the first day of school, my wife and I realized that we needed to teach Avry to tie her shoes. (Flip-flop-friendly B.C. weather and velcro made it easy to avoid that chore until now.)

Andrea sat on the kitchen floor, repeatedly showing Avry how to make one loop, then another. Avry was highly motivated. She was eager to wear her stylish new footwear.

After about 20 minutes of effort, Avry said, “Just a minute, Mom.”

Avry closed her eyes. “God,” she whispered, “help me learn to tie my shoes now.” The last word she underlined with an emphatic nod of her head.

God didn’t answer her prayer. Instead, it took a few more after-supper practice sessions, I with one shoe and Avry with the other; Avry paying careful attention to my deliberate movements, then trying to mimic what she had just seen.

Coordinating thumbs and fingers to tuck laces through loops in the correct order is a complex process when you stop to think about it. It’s awfully easy to get snarled and tied up in knots – and your shoestrings can get tangled, too!

When I learned to tie my shoes, I bellyached. A lot. “This is too hard!” I complained.

“What’s wrong with me?” I moaned. “I’ll never get this!”

To Avry’s credit, she was exceptionally calm and patient. Yet, I found myself repeating the gentle encouragements my mom told me: “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You can do this. Just give yourself time. Keep trying.”

Avry was soon rehearsing on her own, slowly but steadily improving her skills. Before long, she was competent in the basics. I then showed her the finer points of shortening the shoestrings, tightening the laces, threading a double knot, and untying a bow (and avoiding knots) by pulling just one end.

It’ll be a little while longer before she’s mastered the artful science of tying shoelaces, before it becomes something natural – an important daily ritual even though it goes unnoticed. Lacing up her shoes will be an automatic routine that gives Avry independence, and the ability to walk or play without tripping.

As I watched Avry run off to greet her friends on the playground, two thoughts came to mind.

It seems to me that learning to walk with Jesus and live his way of life is a lot like learning to tie my shoes. There’s nothing particularly flashy about the process. Persistently practicing some routines and behaviours that I’ve learned from others will ultimately mean I become the person God wants me to be. Even better, I’ll have grown in relationship with One whose guidance is firm and sure-handed, yet remarkably forgiving.

It occurs to me that as much as I’d prefer that God would change me now (it would be easy should God choose to do so), God doesn’t. Jesus seems rather content to take his time with me. And you.

I suppose if God can live like that, I can too.

In fact, I’m quite content to take it slow – especially when it comes to Avry. I’m not eager to have her graduate from runners to high heels. And I guarantee there won’t be any rush on my part when she asks me about “tying the knot”…

–J Janzen

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