“From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.” (Psalm 118:5)
A couple of Sundays ago, we had an unusual service in the village of Moshate. When we arrived at the meeting place, the gate was locked. While standing by a busy road, seventy plus children were waiting to enter. Our first concern was the safety of our small friends. Then we attempted to locate someone with a key. We finally ended up meeting in the parking lot of a small convenience store across the street. Ebenezer, who owns the store, had no idea what he was agreeing to when we asked permission to use his property. The children met under a canopied car port, and the adults met under a tree in a neighboring yard. Songs of praise for Jesus filled the air. Ebenezer kept looking out the store door, but thankfully did not ask us to leave.
When I started the service for the adults, one of the ladies acted oddly. Though normally friendly and talkative, she placed her chair apart from the group. She was invited to move closer and join the others, but was content to be separated. During the service she fidgeted in her chair and kept rubbing her feet through her shoes. It finally occurred to me that her shoes were too tight. Following the service, during the meal time, I suggested that she remove her shoes. She slipped her heels out of the canvas, but kept her toes hidden. I promised to take her home so she did not have to walk the few blocks to her house in shoes that were too small.
There have been seasons in my life, where I have felt like my spiritual shoes were too tight. They did not fit, and matter what I tried my feet continued to hurt. I have learned that generally when I am feeling hemmed in and pressed for space that the Lord is about to make a change in my life. My friend was grumpy. She was satisfied to sit by herself and rub her feet. Relief only came when she removed the shoes. Spiritual life can be the same.
What makes us feel hemmed in spiritually can vary. For me, it is mostly a feeling of not belonging any longer. What worked in the past is not currently working. Relationships feel strained and there is no clear vision of who is responsible for what activities. There is also a lack of joy. Ministry feels like a situation where I have overstayed my welcome. Sometimes, there is also an underlying current that I am headed in a different direction than everyone else. Seasons of life change, and if we do not change with the seasons, we become grumpy and dissatisfied. We can also become content to separate from others and nurse our pain.
The interesting thing about my friend’s shoes is that they were the correct size. The imprint on the inside heel of the shoe indicated the size she generally wore. The same can be true of life. What should be the correct size may not work any longer.
Psalm 118:5 tells us that when we are distressed (when our shoes no longer fit), and we call upon the Lord for help (recognizing that we need relief from feeling pressed on all sides) that He will enlarge our space. God will make our shoes bigger, so they will fit us properly. May the Lord bless us with shoes that fit and strength to walk in whatever direction He takes us.