Have you ever tried to walk in someone else’s shoes? I remember trying to walk in my dad’s rubber boots as a kid, even tried one my mom’s high heeled stilettos. I remember my childhood experiences trying to follow my dad through knee-high snow, carefully trying to walk in his exact footsteps. Sometimes I could do it and other times I failed because my legs were too short, and my dad's strides were too long. I would fall over into the snow and we would laugh. Each of us in life have followed in someone’s path, sometimes good and sometime bad. I am sure you have heard the phrase – “before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” In essence, this expression means you must grow in understanding regarding a person; their experiences, challenges, their thoughts and feelings before you judge someone. It is not easy to follow exactly in another's footsteps, especially when we are trying to find our own way through the twists and turns of life.
The same is true in our spiritual life, we need someone to go ahead of us. This concept is used by the writer of Hebrews to describe Jesus as seen in Hebrews 12:1-3 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins (Message).” Jesus is not only the author and perfecter of our faith, he is the Trailblazer among trailblazers. He is the first and the last – no one can replace him. Only Jesus knows how to get us to where we are trying to go. The question is how does he do this?
The Word of God
We understand from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. He was born of a virgin, he lived a sinless perfect life proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God, he suffered and died on the cross only to be resurrected three days later. He came from heaven to earth to show the way… From the earth to the cross our debts to pay… From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky… Lord we lift your name on high… This is Jesus our trailblazer and he knew this from a young age as we see in the passage of Scripture found in Luke 2:40-52.
Imagine you’re a parent and you unknowingly drive off without your child. In the scramble to get on the road, perhaps you forgot to count heads. A day later you realize someone is missing; panic, fear, a roller coaster of emotions. You rush back and spend three days trying to find your son in the big city. But imagine returning only to find that your youngster had intentionally stayed behind—and showed absolutely no remorse for giving you the scare of a lifetime. How would you react? What were Mary and Joseph thinking and feeling when they finally found Jesus sitting with the teachers, asking questions and amazing everyone with his answer. Even more surprising is Jesus’ response – “Didn’t you know I have to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:44). There are two Scriptures that book end this passage.
· And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40).
· And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52).
Spiritually speaking, how does one grow up or mature in following Jesus?
· By learning the Word of God. “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov 2:1-6).
· By encountering grace. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
· By knowing the promises of God and maturing spiritually with God and relationally with people. The foundation of this maturity is grace and favour which are used interchangeably in Luke 2:40, 52.
The Promises of God
It is one thing to know and grow in understanding God’s Scriptures. It is another thing to encounter and experience a personal relationship with God founded upon the Promises of God. Jesus says, “Follow me.” But it is not necessarily easy to follow Jesus. Some days I do not feel like following Jesus. Some days the challenges of life seem too big; financial worries, health concerns whether physical or emotional, relational breakdowns. Have you heard the saying, “Promises are made to be broken.” One of the struggles in life is broken promises, Unfortunately, we’ve all had friends, family members, and loved ones who made promises they were not able to keep. Most likely we ourselves have broken promises to others and even God himself. With each broken promise we experience disappointment.
While we or others may make promises and break them, God never does. I hope that as we discover the Promises of God found in God’s Word that we will learn to trust him more – as we follow in Jesus’ footsteps. God promises to be with us through the challenges of life, to guide us, to help and comfort us, to sustain us and to make us more than conquerors in Christ. Because God is holy, he keeps his promises and it is our privilege to discover his promises. Our hope is in Jesus and the promises he has made to us. No matter what we are facing, we know that through the Promises of God’s Word that we are not facing it alone. God is with us.
Here are a few keys verses to help us begin this journey of discovering God’s promises.
· “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
The promises of God are fueled by his divine power, glory and goodness. As we take hold of Jesus, as we follow in his footsteps of growing in wisdom and grace – the promises of God begin to shape our lives and not the circumstances around us. Jesus changes us from the inside out as we “walk by faith not by sight” and allow the grace and promises of God to form us into the divine nature of God, leading us away from the corruption of the world.
· “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Walking in someone else’s shoes or following in the path of Jesus can come with tests and trials. There is a promise of life as we overcome the challenges and embrace our love for God.
· Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all (Rom 4:16). In the same way that salvation comes by grace through faith, so it is with the Promises of God. We must learn to rest in grace and surrender to God allowing his promises to change and shape our lives for his glory.
Our journey in the footsteps of Jesus is a long adventure of grace and love and wonder. As we follow Jesus, we often ask questions of God, especially during times of challenge. What’s happening? Did I do something wrong? Do you still love me? Am I really important to you God? What should I be doing? It is in the midst of these questioning times that the Word of God is an anchor to our soul. It is within God’s Word that his promises come to life. He truly is our comforter Saviour, Healer, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit and Soon Coming King.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Cor 1:20). It is in Jesus Christ that the Promises of God come into focus. Discovering the Promises of God is an ongoing encounter of friendship with Jesus.