Monday, May 25, 2015

If the Shoes Fit

The Cobbler is not your
usual Adam Sandler movie
If you're like me, when someone brings up Adam Sandler, your mind immediately jumps to his zany movies like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and The Wedding Singer. Maybe you even think back to some of his crazy characters on Saturday Night Live, or maybe you just associate him with crude humor. I admit that Sandler's sense of humor isn't for everyone, but I also appreciate that he seems to have mellowed out a little bit over the years.

(Some of you may remember the post I made a few years ago about Sandler's movie Click - click here to go there!)

I like a handful of his movies, myself, but I'm really not a huge Sandler fan. My wife, Amber, on the other hand, has always loved him, so for better or worse, we've seen most everything he's put out. That's why we were both a little surprised when Amber was looking at a Redbox machine recently and discovered an Adam Sandler movie from 2014 that we had never seen before!

The Cobbler is nothing like The Waterboy - let's put it that way. The Cobbler seems very subdued next to the movies he was making 10 years ago, but I have to say I really enjoyed it! I'll try not to give too much away for those who might be interested in looking it up.

In the story, Max (Sandler) works in the shoe repair shop that was once run by his father and his grandfather before him. As a child, Max's dad had showed him a special stitching machine that he says was given to the family by an angel (stay with me), and he says the stitching machine should only be used in special circumstances. Max is enthralled and looks forward to helping in the family business. As an adult, however, Max has lost most of his passion for life. He lives with his ailing mother, and he doesn't seem to care anymore what happens to the shop. You might say Max feels trapped.

I'd say there are probably a lot of people out there who could identify with Max. Life hasn't turned out the way they planned, it's not as exciting s it used to be, and they feel like they just don't have much to give anymore.

But one day, something amazing happens. When his regular stitching machine breaks down and he has an order to fill in a hurry, Max decides to go down to the basement and use the special machine his dad had told him about. Later, when the customer doesn't return for his shoes, Max decides, just for fun, to try them on. As soon as he puts his feet in the shoes, though, he's startled by what he sees in the mirror - his appearance has changed to look like the customer who owned the shoes! Max tries it with other shoes, and he discovers that the same thing happens - whenever he resoles a pair of shoes using the special stitching machine, he can transform himself to look just like the customers they belong to!

What would happen if I tried THESE shoes?
At first, Max has a lot of fun running around town disguised as various people. As time goes on, it gets him into some serious trouble, too, but he finally learns that this is a power he can use to accomplish a lot of good in the world.

As I watched the movie, one of the things that kept coming to my mind was the scripture where Paul said he would become "all things to all people" in order to reach as many as possible with the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). I'm sure that literally transforming into the likeness of other people was not at all what Paul was talking about. Paul was referring to the need to meet people where they are in order to lead them to Christ. If you want to reach the homeless, you have to hit the streets. If you want to reach someone with different beliefs, you have to start with common ground. The movie didn't provide the perfect metaphor for this, but that's where my mind went.

As Max learned to do good with his new-found gift, I was also reminded of these verses from Romans:
"But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"
- Romans 10:14-15
But again, of course, the beauty of those feet doesn't come because of the kind of shoes you're wearing. It doesn't matter if you're wearing Chuck Taylors, Nike, or flip flops - what really makes those feet beautiful is the fact that they bring the messenger with good news - the good news that the love of God is free to all and Christ has come, not just to give eternal life to those who believe, but also to give you a life filled with JOY! (John 10:0)

How great it is when we get the chance to share the love of God with others! Whether it's through sharing the Gospel, meeting a specific need, or just doing random acts of kindness, I think we ought to count ourselves blessed when God chooses to use us to make a positive difference in this world! I am always happy when I can be a blessing to someone else!

Maybe, like Max, you feel like you don't have much to give, but that's really not important. Max was just a cobbler who felt stuck in his job and trapped by his responsibilities, but he was able to use the gifts that he did have to make a difference in several people's lives.

It reminded me of something I talked about recently at one of our Wednesday night Bible studies at church. We've been working through the book of Exodus, and we're up to the part where they're describing the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle, and the special clothing the priests were supposed to wear. Moses was the great leader of the people in those days, but Moses could have never done everything that was needed by himself. In order to get all the supplies that were needed, he had to take up a huge free-will offering from amongst the people. Then he needed the help of carpenters, metalworkers, engravers, seamstresses, people who could cut precious stones to the right sizes and shapes, people who could sew fancy designs into curtains... There was a great deal of work to be done, and there were a great deal of people with ordinary jobs who were needed to serve the Lord.

In other words, just because you're not rich, that doesn't mean you don't have anything to give. And just because you're "only a salesman" or "only a factory worker" or "only a secretary", that doesn't mean that your job isn't important or that you can't still be a blessing to someone in service to the Lord. I'm sure a lot of people who were called upon to help build the tabernacle had never dreamed before that their jobs mattered to the Lord. But their story serves to remind us that whatever you do, whatever your skill - what you have is a gift from God, and it all matters in his sight! We can't all be pastors or nurses or teachers, because we need people who can do other things besides that, so God created us with a diversity of gifts so that we all can work together to have everything needed (Romans 12:12-27).

In case nobody told you today, you are important.

What you do - your gifts in life are important, too.

God has given you the talents and skills and gifts that you have, and he has put you where you are on purpose, so that you can be a blessing to others.

What will you do today to bless others and serve the Lord with what you have?

"Render service with enthusiasm, 
as to the Lord and not to men and women,
knowing that whatever good we do, 
we will receive the same again from the Lord..."
- Ephesians 6:7-8a

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