Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our impact students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series, In the Aftermaths of iMPACT , will highlight what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting?
by Grant Everly
Sunday night was definitely a first for me, as well as everyone else at Impact.
Right off the bat I could tell something was up. I came to Impact 15 minutes early for a first impressions team meeting, just like I do every week, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t a normal Sunday night. In the weekly meetings, we, the Impact first impressions team, normally get briefed on the night’s happenings, but this Sunday, as we came down to a part on the “rundown” for the night labeled “shoes,” the mood started to shift drastically. We were no longer just partaking in a normal Impact; this night was completely different and quite frankly, radical.
Stef Boyce began to tell us what exactly was meant by “shoes.” It was quite evident by her body language and tone that she was overflowing with anticipation. “Tonight,” she began, with a huge grin, “we will be asking you all to give up your shoes.” My initial reaction was a little disbelieving. “Uh-huh, you think that a whole bunch of teenagers are going to take their shoes off and give them away on a moments notice?” But then I quickly began to realize that Stef was being completely serious. Tonight, they truly were going to straight up ask us Impact students to give up our shoes and walk out of the church in our socks, never to get them back. My thoughts soon changed from initial disbelief to the realization that this was actually going to happen. A grin started to sweep across my face in the same way that it had swept across Stef’s, and I let out a little laugh thinking, “This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!!!!”
My grin soon turned into pure excitement as I began to realize what God was calling me to. My heart raced as I came to the conclusion that it was going to happen–my shoes were going to be given up by the end of the night. I was quickly hyped up, if you will, super excited to see how God was going to use all of this. It was no longer a question of whether my beloved tan, canvas, low cut, Nike 6.0s were going to be on my feet at the end of the night — it was a question of where they were going after tonight.
You know that feeling you get when you do something that is really difficult to do, but you’re certain God had called you to? I was experiencing that exhilarating feeling in a much greater strength than I ever had before; the only problem was that it wasn’t even close to time to give up my shoes yet, as Impact hadn’t even opened its doors. I was going to have to wait another hour before I gave up my shoes.
I left the meeting with a heart that was pounding obnoxiously hard. It was soon time for Impact to begin. My friends began to enter, and Impact appeared normal, but I could never quite completely convince myself that it was a normal night, in large part due to my heart, which had to be pumping blood at an accelerated rate. I tried to relax just a bit, but I was just too overwhelmed with the joy of knowing that my shoes were no longer a material possession of mine, but were soon to be used to advance God’s kingdom.
The “fun stuff” (hangout time, group games and discussion groups) at Impact were soon coming to a close, and the next thing I knew I was walking into the youth room, ready to hear what I knew was sure to be a one of a kind, and certainly radical message by Josh. It’s absolutely unheard of for someone to ask you to give up something of yours, much less something that most would consider a basic necessity. I tried to conceal my excitement as I walked in to the youth room.
I did my best to have a normal experience during Josh’s message, but I couldn’t help myself. I was continually looking down at my shoes just grinning in anticipation over what it would feel like to give them away, thinking about the fact that they soon wouldn’t be mine.
Soon it was the closing part of Josh’s message and Josh began to introduce the challenge he was proposing to us. I could no longer conceal my excitement! My heart began pounding as Josh told us what he wanted us to do. Then he said it. The challenge was officially on the table, there for the taking. He wanted us to give up our shoes. To simply come up and lay our shoes down on the stage, with complete uncertainty in regard to where they would end up. I soon found that I was grinning a grin that was surely stretching from ear to ear. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the biggest grin that has ever spread across my face. My stomach then began to churn, and I knew it was officially time.
Josh exited the stage and I looked down upon my shoes for what was sure to be the last time. I said a short prayer over them, having no idea what was going to happen to them. I then proceeded to walk up to the stage and lay down my shoes. In a word, it was exhilarating. My shoes, the ones that I wore everyday, and the ones that went with every outfit, were no longer mine; they were fully God’s. I returned to my seat and my smile began to grow even more as I watched the stage grow into a mountain of shoes.
The leaders came up and took our shoes while Josh said a few last words. That was the moment that completely solidified the experience. At that point there was no turning back — the shoes were officially God’s. I was totally psyched!! I knew that if the God of the universe was calling me to give up my shoes, he had a pretty good reason as to why, and I truly couldn’t wait to see how he was going to use my shoes.
We then proceeded to worship, which was an experience in and of itself. With at least ¾ of the youth group worshipping shoeless, there was certainly an air of surrender. The worship time ended, and then we were dismissed.
I walked out the door a changed teenager, and not just because I was just wearing socks on my feet. I now knew what it felt like to fully surrender to God, and knew that full surrender was something I needed to strive for in the future. My graciousness turned to frustration as I read the signs that some of the youth leaders were holding. The signs read: “God gives back. Take your shoes”. “Really?” I thought, quite frustrated by the fact that after all of this I was going to get back the shoes I had just given away. It certainly seemed anticlimactic, but I soon realized that God’s work on my heart wasn’t quite complete.
As I came home, I began to settle down a bit, and realize what the real goal behind the night’s happenings was. My frustrated mindset was all wrong; it was never a question of how my shoes would be used, it was a question of whether or not my shoes were God’s for the using.
It all began to set in. Throughout the whole night, I was excited to see how God would use my shoes, and, although that was an exciting thing, it wasn’t the point. The point is that, regardless of what happens, my stuff isn’t mine; it’s God’s. It wasn’t a matter of God using my shoes, it was a matter of my shoes being God’s for the using. The difference is that while one rests on the tangible results, the other relies fully on trust in God.
As Christians, we are called to trust God with our material things, and once we realize this, we begin to understand that our giving is not defined by what happens to it once it is placed in God’s hands, but rather it is defined by the simple fact that we are obedient enough to place it in God’s hands.
They could’ve burned our shoes on Sunday, or they could’ve donated them to needy children in Africa. In choosing to give our things up we recognize that we don’t know where our stuff ends up, but in seeing this, we also realize the beauty of generosity.
It’s not about where our things go after they leave our hands; it’s about whether or not we trust God enough to place what’s in our hands in His hands.
Grant Everly is a sophomore at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.