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Walking in Your Own Shoes: Discover God's Direction for Your Life

Walking in Your Own Shoes: Discover God's Direction for Your Life

by Robert A. Schuller

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God had a specific reason when he formed us to be individuals, unique creations that each fulfill a special purpose. Everything we are, have been, and will be is all part of a grand plan of God's love. Everything helps to shape us into the people God wants us to be and where we find our inner satisfaction, joy, and meaning.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446500906
Publisher: FaithWords
Publication date: 11/01/2007
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 474 KB

About the Author

Robert A. Schuller is the former senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. He has written twelve books, including the bestseller Walking in Your Own Shoes. His most recent book is entitled Leaning Into God When Life Is Pushing You Away. Schuller has four children and resides in Laguna Beach, California, with his wife, Donna.

Read an Excerpt

Walking in Your Own Shoes

By Robert A. Schuller William Kruidenier Faithwords Copyright © 2007 Robert A. Schuller
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-446-58097-7

Chapter One Designed for the Journey

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. 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

Randall Bingham IV loved coming home from college at winter semester break. But this Christmas his anticipation was bordering on intimidation based on a decision he had recently made.

The traditional Christmas Eve gathering for the Bingham clan, hosted in his parents' spacious and sumptuous home, was an annual pass-in-review for himself, his siblings, and his cousins. Over the years it had become the way for the elder Binghams-grandfather Randall "the second" plus his son and sons-in-law-to assess the progress and performance of the rising generations.

By the time the evening was over, every young person in the family had been informally interviewed as to present progress and future plans. It was this family muster that had Randall more than a little worried.

In New England, "Bingham" was a synonym for "attorney." In Randall's case, since his father was the senior partner of the family law firm begun by his great-grandfather, it had been understood that the legal mantle was Randall's to inherit. Graduating from college, then on to an Ivy League law school-the script had been in place for as long as he could remember.

He had avoided detailed interrogation up until the time the family was seated for dinner-high schoolers and up at one massive table, everyone else at tables in an adjoining room. As the formal meal began to be served, Randall's uncle Charles opened the questioning.

"So, Randall," Charles began, "you're halfway through your junior year. Have you narrowed down the list of law schools you're going to apply to?"

"Not yet, Uncle Charles," Randall began, focusing on the peas he was serving himself instead of looking up to see how many of the eighteen pairs of eyes at the table were actually focused on him. "I'm definitely giving it a lot of thought, though-and prayer!" He looked up and smiled at that-it couldn't hurt to get God in his corner for what was to come.

"Well, that's good-that's good," Charles responded, with a "what's there to pray about?" tone in his voice. "Tell us what you're considering."

"Well, actually, things have been so busy since I got home that I haven't even had a chance to talk about this with Mom and Dad-so I probably ought to wait to fill you in until after I've talked with them."

The conversation at the table dropped noticeably with that statement, which Randall tried to restart by asking that the gravy boat be passed his way. But he knew his father, at one end of the table, and his mother, at the other end, were focused not on gravy but on the possible crack in the foundation of the future of one Randall Edwards Bingham IV.

"Go ahead, Randall," his father said, laying down his knife and fork and leaning forward, elbows on the table. "We're all family here. Tell us what you're thinking."

Randall could either lie ("I've been thinking about medical school instead of law school") and allow the meal to recover with just a speed bump, or tell the truth and create a train wreck. No time like the present, he reasoned.

"Well, I've been thinking about not going directly to law school after I graduate." Suddenly you could hear the ice melting in the crystal water glasses.

Randall continued. "Through the campus student-ministry organization I'm involved with at school I've been learning about some incredible possibilities to get involved overseas-some underdeveloped parts of the world. The needs are so huge-literacy, health, business and economic development, agriculture, legal injustice-it's amazing! When I think about the way God has wired me-the things that are important to me and what I'm good at-and where I might have the opportunity to do the most good with my life, I've been thinking it might be in a setting like that as opposed to being an attorney here.

"Here's what I'm thinking," he continued. "I'd do a summer internship overseas this coming summer, spend my senior year narrowing the alternatives, then graduate and spend one to two years working overseas. If it works out and I see I'm making a difference, and decide I need further education, say a medical degree, I'd return and go back to school before going back on a permanent basis, say, as a medical missionary."

There's no telling how long the silence at the table would have lasted if Randall's tenth-grade cousin, Shelly, hadn't piped up. "A missionary?" she said, voicing what everyone was thinking. Or maybe not: "That'd be awesome!"

Maybe God was in his corner after all.

You could probably change a few details and make that story apply to you at some point in your life journey. I have heard numerous theme variations as I have counseled and prayed with individuals seeking to find their path in life, often trying to overcome the expectations of family, loved ones, or friends. The challenge to find and fulfill one's own calling in life is perhaps our most important task.

Hopefully all of us are having a running dialogue with God in prayer about finding our own path in life; about finding our own shoes to walk in-shoes that feel more and more comfortable the further we walk in them.

It's a lifelong conversation, a self-talk mature people have with themselves all their lives. Personally, I have not yet put a period at the end of that conversation in my own life, and I don't anticipate doing so. Life is a journey, not a destination, and the path of our individuality and uniqueness in God's sight will continue to unfold as long as we live.

Why are we so inclined to walk in others' shoes instead of our own? It's because we don't think we have what we need to succeed. For some reason, we think everyone else in life got what they needed but we didn't. We think God intended for us to be followers, not leaders; dependent, not independent; traditional, not creative; fearful, not courageous; static, not changing; safe, not risky; walking in a rut, not blazing a new trail.

Wrong! God intends each of us to have the resources and confidence we need to choose what to do and who to become in our lives. We may need training or information or money or advice. But those are the easy things to get compared to what holds most people back: the ability to believe God created them and equipped them to be unique and significant.

There is no greater feeling in the world than when we realize we are doing something we've never done before-something we thought we'd never be able to do. I've witnessed three out of four of my children coming face-to-face with this reality as they learned to ride two-wheel bikes. (The fourth, before his third birthday, just hopped on and took off as if he was born to ride.) As all parents do, I would run alongside the children with my hands on the bike seat, keeping them steady. Up and down the street we'd go as the children gradually gained confidence. Occasionally, without telling the child, I would take my hands off the seat and allow them to ride increasing distances on their own, running alongside with my hands out of sight. They would think I was holding on, that it was me keeping them from falling.

Eventually, when I was confident they didn't need me any longer I would run a few feet ahead and show my child my hands. For a split second there would be a wobble and a look of confusion. I could tell the neurons were firing by the billions in their little brains as they tried to compute the fact they were riding without me holding them up. And then it would click! Their faces would break out in sheer joy as they realized they were riding with "no hands"-at least, without my hands. They were now free to go wherever they wanted on a bike.

Even as adults, we have those moments in life where we are caught between the sheer terror of falling and the sheer ecstasy of staying upright. God "shows us His hands" to let us know we're actually on our own, and we scream, "Put your hands back on the bike! Catch me! Hold me!" We have a hard time believing He has trained us (equipped us) thoroughly enough to break free and go wherever we want in life.

But recall Peter's words: "[God's] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through Christ." Our challenge is to believe those words; to look in the mirror and say, "God has provided everything I need for life and godliness."

Believing the world was round was hard for those who always thought it was flat. Believing the earth revolved around the sun was hard for those who always believed the opposite. It takes time and evidence to change our minds about serious issues in life. Therefore, I want to give you six categories of evidence that should encourage you to believe God has given you everything you need to live and achieve your dreams.

Think of the following six realities like stages progressing upward from the broad base of a pyramid to the point at the top-and you are the point!

God's Existence: Presence

This point is the broadest and simplest of all: If God exists and is a presence in the universe, the possibilities in life are endless. If God doesn't exist-if life as we know it is the result of the continual and accidental collision of matter-then little of consequence, individually or otherwise, is worth pursuing.

The November 2006 issue of Wired magazine-regarded as a bible among high-tech types for having its finger on the pulse of forward-thinking trends-featured a cover story titled "The Church of the Non-Believers." The byline of the article read, "A band of intellectual brothers is mounting a crusade against belief in God. Are they winning converts, or merely preaching to the choir?" The article detailed the efforts of three well-known atheists, all highly respected in their fields of philosophy and science, to promote disbelief in the existence of God.

I can only say I would hate to be in their shoes. The vast majority of the world's population believes in God. I don't mean Jesus Christ as God, but God as a being who exists-the opposite of what atheists believe. To use the title of a book written by the late theologian Francis Schaeffer, most people believe "God is there and He is not silent."

Think about what it feels like to drive up to a darkened building at night where you're supposed to meet someone. It can feel off, disconcerting, even scary. You call out, "Hello-anybody home?" Suddenly a light comes on and a familiar face appears around a corner: "Sorry-I just got here. Come on back to the office. I'm glad you're here." Relief! The idea of not being alone is a powerful force.

That's the difference it makes that God exists. Instead of being met with cold silence when we speak into the universe with a tentative, "Anybody home?" God speaks, letting us know we are not alone.

The difference God's presence makes is simply this: you and I are not left to our own devices in this life. God is big and He is present and He is able to provide everything we need to live the creative, strong, and independent lives we desire.

I have been asked more than once, "Who have been some of the most influential people in your life?" There have been many, but one I'll never forget is Ray Beckering, who appeared on the Hour of Power broadcast when it first began, reading the Scriptures and praying. As a young man I would listen to him and long to know how to pray like he did. When I asked him to teach me to pray, he said, "The first thing you have to do is realize to whom you are praying." In other words, who is God to you? Our prayers reflect the idea of God we carry in our mind. Our prayers manifest the impact God has made in our lives.

God's Ability: Sovereignty

You may remember an experiment begun in 1984 called Biosphere 2. It was an attempt to set up an enclosed and self-sustaining living environment-a microcosm of life on earth: plants producing oxygen and food, water, soil, animals, and insects. The biosphere was a three-plusacre airtight world where eight "bionauts" were to live completely independent of the outside world.

Unfortunately, they discovered that man's sovereignty over his own existence was pretty limited. Despite $200 million invested from 1984 to 1991 to build the biosphere, a multimillion-dollar annual operating budget, and almost unlimited technical support from contributing governmental and scientific agencies, Biosphere 2 was a failure. They found it was impossible to sustain the lives of the eight participants over the planned two-year course of the experiment.

Just sixteen months after the eight participants were sealed inside in 1991, oxygen levels had to be supplemented from outside. Nineteen of twenty-five vertebrate species became extinct. The pollinating species went extinct, meaning the vegetation couldn't reproduce and bear food. And water and air pollution became uncontrollable. Man's best efforts to gain control over his environment proved to be unsuccessful after a little more than one year.

Contrast the failure of Biosphere 2 with "Biosphere 1"-the planet-home we call earth. Our self-contained, self-sustaining planet, that draws its life-giving energy from the sun, continues to re-create and heal itself in spite of all the goop and grime man has released into the system. That's not an invitation for us to live with license and disregard for our planet, but a testament to its amazing ability to support life. Clearly there is a big difference between man's "sovereignty" and God's.

There is a powerful life-force at work in our world, and His name is God. Our planet is not a cosmic pinball machine with you and me playing the parts of ball bearings bouncing from one post to the other. God created this world and sustains it for a purpose. And you are part of that purpose. You play a significant role in God's sovereign plan for this world.

God's Love: Relationship

At this point, let's take a significant step toward personalizing what God has done for you-from deism to theism. A deist is someone who believes in a God who created the universe but then abandoned it, much like a watchmaker who builds a watch, winds it up, then allows it to run down without interference from him. That's what some believe the God who created our world has done-put it in motion and then stepped back, allowing it to take its own course.

How comforting is that idea to someone seeking to live to his or her fullest potential? It's the equivalent of a father bringing a child into the world and saying, "Good luck-you're on your own now!" The idea of not having a relationship with the God who created us is depressing at best and defeating at worst.

Fortunately, the Bible gives us a totally different picture of God. The Bible says God is love (see 1 John 4:8, 16) and that He acts accordingly. From the very beginning of the human story the Bible pictures God interacting with and providing for mankind (see Gen. 3:8). Ultimately, God's intimate and personal love for man was revealed when He came to earth in the person of Jesus, His Son. John 3:16, the most famous verse in the Bible, says God loved us so much He came to earth to meet with us and provide what we need to live life. Jesus Himself said, "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of" (John 10:10 The Message).

Think about that. Whatever life you have dreamed about having, Jesus came to provide it and more. I'm sure these words of Jesus are what inspired the apostle Paul (who discovered a life better than he had ever imagined) to write, "Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope" (Eph. 3:20 NLT).

If we expect to build a life of stability, strength, power, goodness, and quality, it is imperative we start with the right spiritual foundation. Any life built on a foundation other than Jesus Christ is a life built on sand-a life that will fall when the storms come against it. But when we build a life on the foundation of Christ we can build beauty and strength into it over the long term-little by little, year by year. Such a building becomes a relationship that guards us against the storms inevitably to arise. God has not promised we won't go through storms, but He has promised He will go through them with us.


Excerpted from Walking in Your Own Shoes by Robert A. Schuller William Kruidenier Copyright © 2007 by Robert A. Schuller. Excerpted by permission.
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