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  • Writer's pictureKathy Isaac

What If You Don't Have Boots?

Last week, during one of the interviews Joanie and I are videoing, she talked about how as a child she’d heard the expression, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, then mused, “what if you don’t have boots?” She’s not the first to query that old adage, many great thinkers before her have pondered the complexity of that statement: Thurgood Marshall, Jerry Bridges, Vladimir Lennon, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and most famously MLK.

Scrutiny of the statement reveals it’s ridiculousness. Bootstraps are the tabs on cowboy, or the now popular Bluntstone boots. Imagine yourself wearing such boots. Now picture yourself grasping the tabs and pulling yourself up. ‘IMPOSSIBLE!’ I say. Yet many of us hold fast to the old aphorism, clinging to some misguided perception of power and control.

That said, truth reveals that worldy opportunity does not knock equally on every door. Some begin with circumstances vastly improving chances of success, while others‘ circumstances lay deep under a heap of oppression. Joanie’s life was fraught with both physical and mental anguish, relegating her to a tormented existence. Opportunity occasionally knocked, but she was neither fit nor able to either see or grasp it. As a result of a sexual encounter early in life, Joanie suffered from a variety of mental health obstacles, creating a barrier between her and the life she‘d dreamed of.

Though the “bootstraps” of opportunity may help get us places in the world, scripture tells us that they have no place in our faith journey. Opportunity is all around us. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, ”Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together.” He is there knocking right now with an opportunity. Are you listening? But aware that our choice to open the door and say “Yes”, is where our efforts end. Our ability to be in relationship and dine with him rests soley on Jesus’ death and resurrection, and invitation.

Any good or right thing that is done after receiving Jesus, is not a stepping stone toward salvation, but a reflection of the Saviour. Our goodness or good works can no more elevate ourselves into a relationship with Jesus than can tugging and pulling at boot-filled straps get us out of the miry clay of life.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast," Ephesians 2:8,9.

Follow me at for updates on Joanie’s story, Unnatural Love.

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