It’s not common that we can learn a life lesson from work boots; however, it’s possible. The boots in question were the Wolverines in the photo. They were good quality leather boots that I wore often. On the outside they looked good to anyone viewing them; but, on the inside they conformed in a way that wasn’t good.
By taking a close look at the picture you will see the tongue of the boot on the right is in the middle of the laces while the tongue of the boot on the left is off-center. You can tell by the way in which the Wolverine icon clearly shows in one but not in the other. I tried to get the off-centered tongue back in line for months but had no success. Regardless of how hard I tried to force it to the center, it always conformed to its awkward position. In the scheme of life, I don’t suppose it mattered; however, there is a lesson in that tongue: change doesn’t come easily once we conform.
Romans 12:1-2 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I believe these verses are saying we are to be wholly surrendered to God. In everything, we are to yield and abandon ourselves to Him because of what He’s done for us. It’s a matter of love. Because He first loved us, we are to love Him and others. Out of that love will flow praise, worship, good works, and obedience to God’s glory. Though this is what we are to do, it doesn’t always easily happen because change is difficult. Honestly, most of us oppose change of any kind.
I was saved at age 34 after having lived a heathen’s life for all those years. I maybe had one or two decent things about me but, in general, I was a professional sinner. Over the years, I had come to accept many of the world’s standards as my own. I could cuss and drink, was extremely prideful, and committed sin as easily as I drank water. Because of this, the world accepted me as one of their own.
I had conformed to the low standards of the world, but God wanted me to rise to a higher standard – His standard. Over time, I came to understand He was the potter and I was the clay; therefore, if I relinquished my rights to Him, He could mold me into the image of Christ. He’s predestined all Christians to be conformed to the image of His Son.
Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, Chapters 5-7, that we aren’t to live like the world. In fact, once we are saved, we’ll find the way of Jesus is diametrically opposite that of the world. He wants to make us in the image of Christ and, for that to happen, it means we must be less and less like the world every day and more and more like Him.
True discipleship (following Christ) moves us further away from the prevailing attitudes and opinions of the world and more toward the truth of Scripture. That doesn’t mean we don’t engage the world, it only means we engage it in a different way and with a new heart.
A “tolerant” world doesn’t appreciate the truth of Scripture. If we’re truly living for God in our present society, we may not be accepted, we may suffer in our careers, and we may even lose friendships. There is a cost to living for God and sometimes the cost is high. This all makes change difficult.
Also, once we are conformed to anything, any change requires re-forming or, in the case of the potter and the clay – remolding. Though I was never able to make my off-center boot tongue move to its correct position, the Holy Spirit can remold us to His image. He transforms our thinking through the renewing of our minds. Because habits and patterns of thinking form throughout our life, it’s not easy to see change overnight. It generally requires perseverance and prayer to overcome the worldly thinking that has become deeply entrenched in us.
His truth isn’t something we always want to accept or obey because it creates a tension in us. In fact, mankind wants nothing to do with His truth. The resistance first occurs when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, but we still don’t want to change. The light of Christ shines into our lives yet we choose darkness because of our evil deeds. We hate His light and turn from it because it exposes us for what we are and do. When God quickens our heart and we turn to Him, it’s then that the remolding process begins.
At that point, we can either accept or fight the change He desires and there are consequences to both. If we accept the renewing process, we become more like Him. If we don’t, possibly due to the pain required to see change, our hearts begin to harden, and it becomes more difficult for him to make the changes He realizes are important for us to live the abundant, Spirit-filled life He offers.
If He offers other opportunities for transformation but we continue to dismiss them, our hearts can become so hardened, we cannot sense His presence at all. It’s then that we more easily justify our unchanging decisions and actions and our lives move toward the world. If this regularly occurs, it begs the question whether genuine regeneration of our soul ever occurred. We aren’t to love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father isn’t in him.
As in everything, all of this is a choice albeit not always an easy one. We can either choose God or the world, but we can’t choose both. We cannot serve two masters and God is a jealous God. He doesn’t just want a little of our life; He wants 100 percent of it. We often only want to give Him a small percentage because we so enjoy the pleasure associated with the sin we justify.
We are given a promise from God in Romans 12:2. If we allow Him to change the way we think, “Then [we] will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I believe even those that don’t know God want to know the purpose of their lives. God promises to show His will to us if we allow Him to change the way we think. This transformation requires a willingness to turn from sin and back to God. That requires humility, surrender, and takes time; it’s not always easy but it’s “good, pleasing and perfect.”
Consider how your thoughts are formed about anybody or anything. Are your thoughts based on the opinions of the world? How have you accepted the world’s thought processes? If you’re a Christian, are your thoughts based on the truth of Scripture or the latest book you read or show you watched?
Basing our daily lives on the truth of Scripture will cause us to live diametrically opposite of the world. Our lives should be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) whereas, the world is filled with chaos, confusion, corruption, and a lack of self-control.
As Christians, we’ll not follow what culture dictates as “right” if it conflicts with Scripture. We won’t fall for the “politically correct” lies that dominate today’s culture regarding marriage, gender, and abortion, among others. Instead, we will follow the way of suffering rather than dishonor the name of God.
By God’s grace, we can live this way each day regardless of what circumstance we face. It doesn’t mean we’ll celebrate when a loved one dies, or if we face persecution. It does mean we maintain hope for the future regardless of what we face. We can experience trials and still be joyful. Life’s circumstances won’t dictate how we live because we will live in the truth of God’s word which gives us eternal hope. Hope increases as we allow Him to renew our minds at greater levels as we mature in Him.
This all begins when we surrender to God and allow Him to change our ways. Though the boot tongue never conformed to what was best, we can through the grace of Jesus as we humble ourselves before Him. The process may include discomfort and even pain, but the result will glorify God and benefit us.
Lord, help us to mature in you each day growing in your likeness and experiencing greater renewal of our minds. Give us the grace not to oppose your efforts. We need the power of your Holy Spirit for this to happen in us. It’s our desire to surrender our lives to you. Take them and do with them as you please. You aren’t only our Savior, but our Lord and Master. Thank you for the blessings we receive from you each day. We’re grateful for your love, grace and mercy. In Jesus name, Amen.
Final Thought: Everything I write originates from my relationship with a righteous, loving, and holy God. What I am today is credited to His transformational work in my life. I give Him glory for all that is good and take full responsibility for all else. For a better understanding of why I needed God to save me from myself (my sin), take a look at my faith journey. Just as He invited me to come to Him, He invites you as well. Go to The Biggest Question – Why to find the answer to life’s biggest question before each of us.