By Mark A. Taylor
Claudia Cain ran into the house to moan about the latest crisis in her young teen life.
Her dad, Doyle Cain, minister at the local Christian church, took her into his arms to let her cry and give her comfort. And then he said something that at first seemed strange.
“Oh, Claudia, just put on your shoes.”
He soon reminded her of the story in Acts 12 that tells how the angel miraculously released Peter from prison.
“That angel was powerful enough to break through that cell and tear off those chains, but he still told Peter what he had to do: ‘Put on your clothes and sandals’” (v. 8).
Claudia, whose married name is Mitchell, told the story at a Standard Publishing-sponsored banquet at this summer’s North American Christian Convention. With coauthor Kim Goad she’s written a whole set of One Girl resources to help young girls do what they can do.
But the lesson applies to everyone. When the situation seems desperate or difficult, we needn’t waste energy trying to control how the story will end. We’ll do well just to tackle the next thing, the obvious need, the small step we can take while we’re waiting for God to do what he will do.
His work is almost always greater than ours, although our “small step” may seem to us larger than we can handle.
All Mary needed to do was carry a baby full term, even though she could hardly explain how she became pregnant. God had created that miracle.
All Moses needed to do was stand before Pharaoh. God would turn all of nature upside down if Moses would just talk.
All Ananias needed to do was take Saul to be baptized. God had already converted the murderer to a minister-in-waiting.
Noah hammered and was saved from the flood. Elijah prayed, and flames from Heaven consumed his sacrifice. The Israelite priests touched their toes to the waters of the Jordan, and the people crossed on dry land.
In each case, God did a mighty work. But in each case he acted only after his people obeyed him. The tasks were simple; they required little talent or sacrifice. But think how differently each story might have ended if God’s servant had not found enough faith to obey.
Mark Batterson, in his video lessons on Abraham, says, “The biggest blessings of God trace back to the smallest step of faith.”
Each of us can do something to make our church more effective, the gospel more attractive, the discouraged or the poor or the ill more hopeful.
Send a note. Read a psalm. Buy a meal. Visit the hospital. Turn off the TV. Shut down the computer. Pray. Smile. The first step may be as simple as putting on your shoes.