I love the summer, because when the summer comes I get the flip flops out! I love flip flops, I love not having to worry about socks, I have a variety of colours and will wear them every day. I always try to last until October half term but that doesn’t always happen. My mum is actually still wearing her flip flops now – but that’s a different story! I love the freedom my feet get, I have ridiculously big feet both in length but mostly in width, and it is quite difficult to find shoes that fit. I always feel like my feet aren’t meant for shoes, where they are constrained, they are meant for flip flops.
As much as I love my flip flops there is one problem that comes from wearing them. The state of my feet. I’m not just talking about suntan marks, although that is annoying. The skin of my feet becomes hard and dry, quite often cracks will appear and it can become quite painful. I have to moisturise my feet regularly. My feet may be free, less constrained in flip flops, but it comes at a cost. Throughout the summer my feet get harder and it isn’t so much of an issue, but then the next year we have to start again. What has this got to do with love?
Jackie Pullinger said:
“God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet”
I’m pretty certain that Jackie Pullinger wasn’t talking about God wanting us all to wear flip flops – although I wouldn’t have an issue with that commandment. But she is talking about God wanting us to put love in to action. Going out there, doing the dirty work.
For many people they think that Christianity is about going to Church on a Sunday, handing over money in the collection, putting in an appearance, but I’m not sure we’re actually made to fit into a building.
Don’t get me wrong, Church is important, vital as part of the journey, but as much as I love going to church on a Sunday, and enjoy meeting with others with a similar faith, Church is so much more than that. Those weekly meetings, or assembly times at school are the equivalent of the shoe time of the year, a time to recover and restore ourselves, to then go out and do Christianity. The rest of our life should be the flip flop part of life, having the freedom to go to anywhere or to anyone, to show Gods love to them, in that context. It’s exciting, but it can also be painful. As I’ve so often said, Christianity isn’t met to be easy!
Jackie Pullinger wanted to be a missionary, she approached numerous organisations but got turned away by all of them. Eventually her pastor suggested that she got a boat as far away as she could possibly afford to go. She ended up in Hong Kong. She was teaching in a school in an area where there was a gang culture, and a large amount of drugs. Eventually she started to work with the drug addicts and started up st Stephens society. St Stephens society provides homes for drug addicts, to help them come off the drugs, but then to help them to ensure that they will not go back to the drugs, and to create a life for themselves.
Jackie Pullinger does this work because of her calling from God to do so, to show his love to those who don’t know it. Her heart was soft, although she was working in a school, she felt for those who were broken in society. Yes, she could pray for them, or give money to charity, but instead she chose to actually help them. This cannot have been easy, she didn’t know anyone in Hong Kong, there wouldn’t have been any government funding, she was working with people rejected by society. I imagine the most difficult part though, would have been listening to the stories of the people who she was helping, how had they got to that situation in the first place. She persevered, and her feet have become hard, that doesn’t mean that she’s immune to it, but just it has taken her toll on her. She cannot have helped but to have been affected by it. Her work continues today, those who she has helped have now gone to other parts of the world to share the message of Jesus Christ, and to share Gods love.
Jackie’s primary aim was to show Gods love, not to preach God’s love. A church has been developed in Hong Kong out of the work she has done, but the work she did was necessary first. People notice the actions, they don’t necessarily hear the words! Let’s go back to my mum and her flip flops, she has her own little theory for why she is still wearing flip flops now, it’s something to do with the fact that because her toes are not constrained her toes are moving more and therefore she’s actually got warmer feet than if she was wearing shoes. There are a lot of people now who know the reason my mum is wearing flip flops, because they ask her. She is standing out of the crowd by wearing flip flops when it’s freezing cold. People want to know why she is doing it. Unfortunately we live in a society where showing love, living in a loving way, can make you stand out from the crowd. Are you willing to do that? By standing out, people may well ask why we are choosing to do what we do, that’s when we can share the message.
Jackie went to Hong Kong but We have situations every day where We can show Gods love. Actions really do speak louder than words, but we have to be willing to step out of the comfort zone, and be willing to stand out in the crowd. Are you willing to wear flip flops when everyone else is wearing boots? (I would like to point out I’m not condoning the wearing of flip flops at school).
Challenge: is there an area of life in school, family or even the world that God has softened your heart for? How can you wear flip flops in that situation.
Prayer: Father God we thank you that have first loved us, so that we can go and love. We pray that you soften our hearts to see where we can show love to those that need it. We thank you that you got your feet dirty, but also that you washed the feet of your disciples. Give us the strength to wear flip flops when others are wearing boots. Amen.