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Car Line Discipleship: The Story of the Stolen Shoes

“Tell us a story about you, Mom,” Raegan called from the backseat on the way to school. Our four youngest children attend the same K-12 school and they love to hear stories on the way there in the morning, especially the ones where their mother acted badly!

A memory of stolen shoes and pinched toes flashed before me and I began the tale of my 7th grade shenanigans. The middle school I attended operated a demerit system and in order to participate in the end of the quarter activity, you had to be demerit free. And this quarter was unlike any other, we were to see The Air up There, starring Kevin Bacon, in the movie theater!

With height comes larger than average feet. These tennis shoes simply did not fit; they were at least two sizes too small for me. Determined not to let anything stand between me, my friends, and Kevin Bacon, I painfully shoved my feet into those white laced Nike sneakers.

I opened up my gym bag that fateful day and, to my horror, realized I had forgotten my gym shoes. That’s a demerit! My friends sprung into action and gloriously found a pair of tennis shoes someone had left in an unlocked locker. Quickly, we devised a plan.

Now, I am a tall woman who was almost always the tallest girl in my grade. With height comes larger than average feet. These tennis shoes simply did not fit; they were at least two sizes too small for me. Determined not to let anything stand between me, my friends, and Kevin Bacon, I painfully shoved my feet into those white laced Nike sneakers.

My gym teacher, seeing me stumble onto the court moments later, looked at me quizzically, asked if the shoes were mine, and … I lied. My children gasped at my confession in the car.

“I know!” I told them, “Don’t do it! I should have gotten one demerit for lying and another one for stealing the shoes!” Most of them laughed, picturing their mother tripping over her feet 30 years ago in her school gym, but our little Harper, 7 years old, sat stewing. I saw her face through the rearview mirror growing more concerned as we approached the school building.

Harper’s school doesn't give demerits, but they do give marks. And Harper is terrified of getting a mark. She so badly desires to do right all the time.

Sensing her anguish mounting as we pulled into the car line, I wasn’t too surprised when Harper, shaken and in a panic, blurted out, “I don't want to go to Hell. I want to go to Heaven!” Our little girl, the one most prone to fear and anxiety, couldn’t handle the story of her mother falling short; she connected it with an understanding of our sin before a Holy God and her own fears of falling short.

I saw her face through the rearview mirror growing more concerned as we approached the school building. Harper’s school doesn't give demerits, but they do give marks. And Harper is terrified of getting a mark. She so badly desires to do right all the time.

She was near tears and had mere minutes before she would need to gather herself and walk into school for the day. I didn't want to pass by this precious moment of conviction and I knew what Harper needed more than anything was to be pointed to Jesus.

“Harper,” I began, “Jesus knew that we would get marks and demerits. That’s why He came for us! He knew we couldn’t do things right all the time.”

“Okay,” she timidly responded.

“Harper, we don’t go to Heaven because we don’t get any marks. We go to Heaven because Jesus didn’t get any!”

A perfectionist child, who struggles with fear and anxiety, does not need to hear how she can do better. She does not need encouragement to behave well and not get any marks that day. A perfectionist child needs to hear that Jesus did the perfect work for her, and she can rest in his sacrifice on her behalf.

“Harper, remember the Bible says that if we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved. It’s all about what Jesus did for us, not what we have to do for Him.”

We don't go to Heaven because we don’t get any marks. We go to Heaven because Jesus didn’t get any!

We pulled to the front of the car line and I watched the fear and panic drain away from her sweet face only to be replaced by the peace that passes all understanding. She cheerfully hugged me goodbye and began to climb out of the van, stealing a glance at my tennis shoes for good measure on her way out.

Another car line crisis successfully averted because Jesus is good – not Harper or her shoe stealing mommy.






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