This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Image: An image of a bright pink pair of children’s boots.
“The disciples said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Bright ideas at Christmas time
A couple of years ago, the good people at one of the churches where I serve decided that our Christmas mission would be to help provide warm Christmas boots for children in our community who were in need. The only question was, how would we find and connect with those children?
Every year, our church does a “clothing giveaway,” where we give away gently used clothes to anyone who needs them. Our slogan for the event is, “take what you need, give what you can.” The Clothing Giveaway is always very well attended. It always makes me sad to see that there is so much need in our community. I realized that if we wanted to help children who were in need, these would be the perfect families with which to connect.
I created a form with a picture of a happy snowman wearing boots at the top. It said in large letters, “Toasty Toes- Does you child need boots this winter?” The form included basic contact information and asked for the child’s shoe size. I left a stack of these forms on a table near the entrance to the fellowship hall, where the Clothing Giveaway was taking place. I’ll admit that I was feeling quite pleased with myself. The form was cute, we were looking for families to help, and I was certain at least a few families with children would attend our Clothing Giveaway.
What could possibly go wrong?
The best laid plans of mice and men…
Our Clothing Giveaway is always well attended, but that particular year, I was astounded by the number of families who came to our event. In the past, we had about fifty families attend. This particular year we had over 120 families. There were so many people that we lost count at a certain point!
We had been expecting maybe ten requests for shoes. At the most, we hadn’t anticipated more than a dozen. In the end, I was blown away by the fact that we had received fifty requests for warm winter boots for children.
Needless to say, the congregation and I were stunned. We are just a small church on the outskirts of town. How could we possibly provide that many shoes to that many children? It seemed like an impossible task.
“What will we do?” numerous people asked me. “We can’t possibly raise enough money to buy shoes for that many kids!”
I replied in the only way I knew how. “Let’s just do our best- each and every one of us. We never promised the families anything. We only said that we would try. Let’s just try- and hopefully God will take care of the rest.”
We set up a special tree in the back of the sanctuary decorated with little shoes for people to put the shoes that they had donated underneath. For the first week or so, the space beneath the tree remained bare. We were all skeptical at first. Even I was having a minor crisis of faith.
Then, what seemed like a miracle happen. The shoes underneath the tree began to grow one by one. Soon, they began to multiply. By the end of the season, we had collected all fifty pairs of warm winter boots to help local families in need. A small miracle had occurred.
An ordinary extraordinary miracle
I had the joy of helping to distribute the shoes to families in need. Sometimes, a certain family sticks with you. The sun was setting on a blistering cold winter day when the last family walked into my office to pick up their boots. Outside, the roads were covered in slush and mud.
When the mother and daughter walked into my office, they were both bundled against the cold.
“Do I get new boots now?” asked the little girl.
“Yes,” I said as I handed the box to her. “Here you go. From our church family to your family. Merry Christmas!”
The little girl squealed with joy when she opened the box. “They’re Elsa!” she cried, “I love Frozen! I love Elsa!” She sat down right on the floor of my office and peeled off her old boots. As she gleefully put on her new boots, my gaze came to rest on the pink boots that she had cast aside. I hadn’t looked closely at them until that moment.
I felt a lump in my throat as I saw how battered and worn the boots were. In the soul of one there was a large hole. “There is no way,” I thought to myself, “that those boots could possibly keep her feet warm.” The sight of that old worn pink boot broke my heart.
“What do you say?” asked her mother.
“Thank you!” said the little girl as she danced out of my office.
I waved goodbye to both of them as I contemplated the fact that God had worked a miracle that day.
God can do great things with just a little bit
Even I had doubted God’s greatness. We had all wondered how God would bring the miracle of Toasty Toes to pass. We all have doubts sometimes. Sometimes our faith is as small as a mustard seed. But if we only have a little faith, if we plant it in the good soil of God’s grace, God will grow somethng beautiful.
There was nothing extraordinary about the boots we gave that little girl. They were just an average pair of boots that you could find at any shoe store in America, but God had used the ordinary to do something extraordinary.
Until Next Week,
Right now I’m reading Homer’s Odyssey. I’m so excited about this new translation because it is the first translation of The Odyssey into English that was ever done by a woman. Emily Watson does an excellent job and I highly recommend it.
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!