If the Shoe Fits...

I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.
— Deuteronomy 29:5

So, for those of you who don’t know, my daughter, Mary Emmaline, is two going on three. And like most two going on three-year olds, she is quite emotional and strong willed. Because of this, she is also a constant source of illustrations for sermons, Bible studies, and Postscripts. Currently, Mary Emmaline’s ability to fully dress herself is around 75%. She can usually put on her chosen articles of clothing with only a few mishaps (you know, like a head in a sleeve or two legs in one pant hole). By the way, matching is why it’s minus 25%. She must get that from me. But all in all, dressing goes well. The true difficulty begins with shoes. Mary Emmaline puts her shoes on the wrong feet so consistently that it must be intentional. Sandals, flip flops (the travesty!), tennis shoes, rain boots, you name it. And here’s the problem for her, the shoe fits.

Have you ever heard that saying? If the shoe fits, wear it. A quick Google search of the saying brings up this definition: used as a way of suggesting that someone should accept a generalized remark or criticism as applying to themselves. Here’s the problem with the saying, though. Generalized remarks and criticisms can sometimes fit, but it might be like Mary Emmaline—on the wrong foot. What follows is smooshed toes, a cramping foot, skinned knees from the inevitable fall, and weeping for days. I have noticed that the same thing happens in our personal (private) devotion time.

How is your personal devotion to God? In our American Christian culture, we would call this “quiet time.” I see four obvious answers: 1) you’ve fallen out of the habit, 2) you’ve never started, 3) you’re battling to keep it up, or 4) it’s right where it should be. No matter which of the four answers you resonated with, if God has wrought salvation in you through confession of Jesus Christ, you will agree that devoting time daily to God is not only appropriate but necessary. But here’s the tricky part, private devotion is not like a stretchy house slipper with the label ONE SIZE FITS ALL! on the tag. It’s more like a hiking boot for a straight and narrow trail.

Here’s the point: you are not me, I am not you, and we both need to do private devotions. Here’s an example: I have a little devotional called Licht Auf Dem Weg that gives me one Bible verse of Greek (from the New Testament) and one Bible verse of Hebrew (from the Old Testament) to translate. I imagine for most of you reading this, you either cringed at that idea or view it like you’re looking at an exhibit at the zoo—exotic, perhaps fascinating, but also not indigenous to the area. And that’s okay! You are not me, and I am not you. “Read the Bible in a year” plans are good unless they don’t fit. Bible study aids like devotional commentaries are good unless they don’t fit. Twelve chapters of Scripture a day is good unless it’s too much. One verse of Scripture a day is good unless it’s too little. Listening to God’s Word preached via podcast is good unless you aren’t listening. Who are you in personal devotions? I guarantee that all Christians deep down want to personally devote themselves to God, but one size does not fit all. And even if the shoe fits, I’ve seen some fit on feet that you’d think was impossible.

Pray to God. Ponder on who you are. Pray some more. And then seize a plan of personal devotion that glorifies God and edifies (strengthens) you. You will be surprised at how much easier walking the narrow path is with shoes, shoes that fit, and shoes that fit on the right foot.

Jeremiah Thomas