Image by Julianna Mathers

Miracle Red Cowboy Boots

When the Lord first moved our family to Dallas, we lived on my husband’s military pension while he looked for the job that would launch his second career. We were so blessed to have the resources that permitted us to move, plant ourselves in a wonderful neighborhood close to family, and provide our kids with a private school that accommodates their different learning styles. Our needs were fully met, but we had to watch our pennies. We had to put little luxuries on hold, just for a season. Our discretionary abilities were on restriction. Life became smaller, and in some ways sweeter.

In my daily prayers for my husband, one of the things I would ask for was peace and confidence in his provision of our family.  Looking for a job is hard on a man, and I didn’t want to knowingly add stress to his burden to provide. So I prayed, and God helped me imperfectly live out my intentions. This season was hard for me. My friends who know me well could tell you why. I want stuff. I know, we all want stuff, but some of us are better at putting our desires on the back burner. I’m not so good at it. We had a new home and I’m one of those who loves to fuss – a little coat of paint, a few new light fixtures, maybe a rug here, maybe a lamp there. Curtailed, for a season. In prayer the Lord said, “this phase seems like a test for your husband but it is also a discipline for you, to prune away unnecessary desires that won’t satisfy you…can’t satisfy you.”

The words of 1 Timothy 6 reverberated in my spirit, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

And so we set our minds on contentment. Our kids had to grow in this area too. I have a tween daughter. She’s a very tweeny tween. She has had a very nice life. And because she is a child, she has no idea how nice it has been. So when we chose to curtail expenditures, well, it was a bummer for her. One afternoon we were playing tourists in our own town during a “staycation” Spring Break. It was a Western sort of day at the Fort Worth Stockyards. I don’t know why I did this, but I let my daughter amble into a cowboy boot store. Real cowboy boots, not the ones from Target. Beautifully stitched, butter soft leather, expensive cowboy boots. And, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I let her try some on. I have to admit they were cool – red, with elaborate stitching. She looked cool, she felt cool…and then she looked at me in anticipation. “No, not today.” The answer was predictable of course. But it didn’t sit well with her. She proceeded to have what we lovingly call “a hissy fit” in our family. And it was a loud one.  She was hoping to embarrass me into buying boots that were too expensive for most of us, including me. What she actually did was embarrass herself. I took her outside as fast as I could get those pretty boots off her feet and we had a little talk.   She was so certain those boots were vital to her happiness. And here I was denying her the key that would unlock the answer to all her fashion problems.

“Look,” I said, “you are not the first young woman who decided the only thing she needed was the one thing she lacked. Eve and her apple was the first. We will let these boots go and you will survive the disappointment…be better for it.” But the lesson couldn’t stop there. I told her about my prayer for her daddy, who was working hard daily, building his network, and searching out a new way to provide for us. I told her my prayer was peace and confidence for her father. Was her ingratitude fostering that? Was she helping?  “Oh no, mom. I didn’t think about that. I don’t need those boots. Never mind…”

My girl and I love garage sales, thrift stores, and antique barns. We love the hunt. God is so faithful. Wouldn’t you know the very next day we were passing one of our favorite resale shops and decided to stop. Can you guess what was right up front, displayed and waiting for her? Yep, an almost new pair of butter soft red leather cowboy boots…in her size…at a small fraction of the price of the originals!  At first I wasn’t sure why the Lord had decided to answer my daughter’s “hissy fit” with the very thing she was longing for, but I do not pretend to understand all His ways. His sweetness in response to our sourness continues to astound me. I can’t be sure, but I think He was showing my daughter that God meets our needs…and sometimes our wants…if we open our hands and bend our will to His choices. I think He was showing all of us…

Read with me in First John Chapter 2:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

This sounds like an order or a command, and a tough one at that. How do I not love the world? The lust of the flesh – our physical cravings; the lust of the eyes -our longing for things; and the pride of life – our confidence in earthly resources. These things seem to rule me. How do I resist?

The answer is simple and complex all at once.  I think maybe this isn’t a command at all.  Maybe it’s really it’s an explanation, a guide map.  Do not love the world…because the world will not satisfy. It cannot satisfy. Sure we can buy the new boots and we can over-extend our finances to do so. But you know what that leaves us with?  Fancy feet and the same old sick soul.  Nothing changes.  Boots wear out.  But when we trust the Lord for our salvation, our provision, our direction on this journey, then everything changes.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” This, friends, is the secret to a happy life. It’s like a code. That thing you want, that thing you can’t live without?  Eve’s apple, my daughter’s boots, or my new lamps…it’s not the fix we’re hoping for.  In fact it could bring ruin.  Jesus is the fix. Only Jesus.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33