Thursday, March 16, 2006


Walking in comfort

A few weeks ago, I started to feel rather uncomfortable as I walked, especially on wet surfaces, and I noticed that the soles of my shoes had worn out. By then my feet were killing me, so I dropped into a "big box" shoe store and grabbed the first pair of new shoes that seemed to fit me. Within a day, I regretted my choice because they left my feet feeling miserable, albeit in a different way. Instead of having a sore sole, I now had sore toes. I went back to another store to buy a pair of walking shoes, but they weren't much better the first day. As I put them on the second day, I had a flash of insight, and realized that I'd been lacing my shoes too tightly at the very top. I laced them less tightly that day, and each day since. I've gone back to my first pair of new shoes and used this new approach on them. Lo and behold, that pair is much more friendly to my very particular feet than practically any shoe I've worn in ages. It turns out that it wasn't the shoe, but the way I laced the shoe, that was torturing my feet.

As I think about it, this story can be used as an illustration for the Christian's relationship to God's Law. As Paul tells us, God's Law is good and right. Out of gratitude to Christ, I strive to obey God's moral Law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments), but so often I find that doing so starts to become a burden rather than a delight. Whenever this happens, I eventually realize that I've gotten back into the old rut of striving to please God through my good works or trying to fulfill the Law mainly in my own strength. Once I come back to relying on God's strength and wisdom to obey His Law and put aside any notion of making myself more just in His sight by doing so (how could I possibly add to the perfect justification I have in Christ!), obeying Him is again the pleasure and delight that it ought to be. Much like my shoes can be instruments of torture if too tightly laced or of pleasure if more loosely laced, I find that to walk rightly in God's Law requires that I maintain the proper attitude of thanksgiving and reliance on His sustaining grace. The Law is good, just as a pair of shoes is good, but it must be used rightly if it is to be for my good.

If I were to choose two words to describe the proper attitude for obeying God's moral Law, it would be "relaxed diligence." Just as I need to take care to not pull the laces of my shoes too tightly, I also need to take care that I not rely too much on my human resources to obey God. If I will do so, I will be able to continue to walk the Christian walk in spiritual comfort.

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