It was time. I had put it off long enough. I knew it had to be done but I just didn't want to take the time that was needed to do it. And because of that, it began to look really bad. Perhaps it was even beyond any hope of recovery. In case you are wondering, I am talking about polishing my every day shoes.
I had put it off for too long. It is one of those tasks that you know needs to be done but you keep putting it off. When I would put my shoes on, I would think, "I need to polish those." But then I would figure I would do it later. I would look down at them through the day and think, "I really need to polish my shoes." Then i would go on about my day and not get the job done.
And they really began to look rough. The black was wearing off. They were scuffed. And the toes didn't even look like they had any polish left. Abused, neglected, forgotten, and yet still expected to get me from place to place. Those poor shoes needed polishing.
This morning, I polished them. As I sat there applying the black shoe polish, I wondered to myself if that is how we often treat our spiritual lives. We go through the days, knowing that we need to take time to "polish" our faith but we just figure we can do it later. How would we "polish" our faith? Through God's Word and Sacraments. Each day we should recall our Baptism, the very day when god made us His own and promised us that He would empower us and strengthen us as we go through our days. We need to be regularly in His Word, reading, studying, growing in the message of life and hope that it brings to us. We are to receive the Lord's Supper "often" rather than infrequently. Notice that it is actually God who is "polishing" us through these Means of Grace.
But we so often don't have time for any of them. Our weekend is the only time we have for ourselves so we don't attend worship where we hear God's Word and receive the Sacrament. We are busy each day so we don't have time to read and study that Word of life. We have too much to do so we don't think about the importance of Baptism for our lives.
And, like my poor everyday shoes, we begin to look pretty rough. The days beat us up. The struggles of life abuse us. Our faith life is neglected and forgotten. Then, one day, we look at ourselves and wonder, "What happened to me? Where is God in the middle of my struggles? Why doesn't He do something to help me out?" We blame God for all the problems when in reality, we are the ones who have turned away from the very Means He has given to us to help us and strengthen us as we go through those hard times. We look worse for wear, almost not fit for anything any longer.
I polished the shoes this morning. As rough as they looked when I began, they look pretty good now. I am amazed what some shoe polish and some attention can do to such a beat up looking pair of shoes. It is also amazing what God's Word and Sacrament can do to "polish" one's life when it is looking beaten up and broken. "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," our Lord says to us. Beaten up by life, abused by sin, we hear the Lord's voice, we are drawn in by the Holy Spirit, and we are given what we need - forgiveness of sins, strength to face another day, joy and peace for the walk we are on, love that touches our hearts and lives in a very significant way and the promise that our Lord will never leave or forsake us.
Like the polish does for my shoes, so God does for my soul. He makes me new. He strengthens me. He gives me hope. He carries me through the day. All that comes to me through His Word and Sacraments. Why do I need to worship? Why do I need to receive the Lord's Supper? Why do I need to be in His Word? Because I am a sinner who needs all that my loving Father gives to me.
Don't neglect the Word. Don't refuse the Lord's Supper. Don't forget your Baptism. In these blessed Means, the Lord gives you all you need to face today. Made new in Christ, I go off to face whatever today brings. My soul is refreshed. And my shoes are shining.