Months ago, I enjoyed a Joyce Meyer women’s conference in St. Louis, Missouri. I have followed her teachings and loved her “in your face” approach for many years and when the opportunity presented itself to see her live, I wholeheartedly took it. It was an incredible time of rest, renewal and revival with powerful worship. Messages of hope, faith and love spanned the course of the three day event from speakers including Joyce, Andy Stanley, and Priscilla Shirer. Each one stirred my soul, rocked my mind and ravaged my heart. I cried out to the Lord sincerely, compassionately and with an urgency I’ve never known. I wanted to return home dramatically changed.
And I did.
During the course of the conference, I experienced several very powerful nudges from the Holy Spirit. Some were devastating, others comical. At one point near the end of the second day, I leaned over to my friend and said “I suddenly believe the Lord is telling me to give away my beloved high heels. All of them!” The message was too simple but very clear. I wanted to cry. She looked at me wide eyed and fearful and then she smiled radiantly. “Then trust Him, give them away!” she said. The conference themes were “Love Life” and “You are Beautiful”, not fashion, shoes or clothing; all things I dearly love. I actually have a stunning collection of stilettos. And God was clearly telling me to part with them.
That nagging little command never left my mind! I had an incredible experience with my friend for the remainder of our time together. We visited landmarks, met a lot of Cardinal fans and dined at fabulous restaurants. We laughed and cried together, making a lifetime of memories.
But on our last night, one single misstep altered my future.
Walking away from the St. Louis Arch, with the moonlight reflecting off the river beside us lighting our way, I found myself in awe of the magic of the conference, the beautiful city and the overwhelming love from a God so extraordinary. I wasn’t paying attention to the uneven sidewalk and I stepped awkwardly off the edge of the curb, turning my ankle gracelessly, losing my balance and almost falling into the street. I did not know anything but severe and overwhelming pain at the time, but I would soon learn that I had an injury commonly seen after trauma in high level athletes. I had multiple torn ligaments and tendons, with essentially nothing holding my ankle in place. It was a devastating injury that would go on to require months of physical therapy and ultimately…an extensive surgical reconstruction.
In a few short hours, I will be in the operating room. My heart and my mind are reeling. During my prayers tonight, the lyrics to my favorite song are burning deep in my soul.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong
My prayer before, during and after that experience in St. Louis was for the Lord to take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. You see, I do believe He was telling me to give away my shoes, but it was only to force my heart, mind and soul to prepare for what was about to happen next- the extent of my injury and long recovery. Most importantly, he was teaching me lessons of obedience and submission through the experience. The Lord is always using our everyday challenges to prepare us for something upcoming. He is always teaching, refining and strengthening us.
I often pray Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Do you ever pray God’s Word, really not giving it much thought? I admit it, I do that sometimes. Sometimes my prayers are so sincere and heartfelt that I could move a mountain with my faith. Other times, my prayers are habitual and empty. I am facing a temporary setback but what the Lord is teaching me in the process is something that will take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, from now to eternity. I’ll be forever altered.
In a few hours, I will arise, pray and begin my day. However, my routine will not consist of an hour of preparing my face, body and hair. My routine will not end with the lengthy selection of the perfect combination of suit, scarf and stilettos. Instead, my heart will be laid bare and my emotions raw. I will plead with the Lord to use me with no pretense to touch someone’s life today. I will leave my home with freshly brushed hair, a fresh face, glasses and even bare toenails. Absolutely nothing exciting or stunning. I believe God wants me to set aside every piece of the world I have within me and just be His servant. My mind will not be consumed with my outward appearance, rather the heart with which I present my love for those I will meet today. Today, and the coming months of recovery is not about me at all, but rather who I am going to be in the face of adversity.
One misstep can alter your future. Whether you stumble and fall or stumble and remain upright, we must realize we all stumble at one time or another. If we happen to fall, the way we gracefully get back on our feet and continue is what is important. Even if we continue with a limp for a short time, we can be confident we are placing value on the life lesson He is trying to teach us. But if we remain fallen, we may never know where our feet were meant to wander.
Everyone faces adversity. Sometimes our stumbles leave scars. Sometimes we continue unscathed. Either way, we are loved by a mighty God and He wants us to hear his voice in all things. Listen carefully for it. His plan for us is always good. Look for the message in each mess you find yourself in.
Let each misstep help to shape your future. By the time you read my words, I will have an ugly wound as a reminder to watch my step. Or I can change my perspective and embrace my pretty scar that signified the moment I heard the voice of my Savior, listened and followed His gentle leading. It really isn’t about the steps, rather the path of greatness those steps can lead you to.