THE SHOE MAN
I showered, shaved and I adjusted my tie. Got there and sat in a pew just in time. Bowing my head in prayer, as I closed my eyes, I saw the shoe of the man next to me…touching my own, I sighed. With plenty of room on either side, why must our soles touch? It bothered me, his shoe touching mine, but it didn't bother him much. A prayer began: “Our Father’…I thought, this man with the shoes has no pride. They’re dust, worn and scratched, even worse, there are holes on the side.
'Thank You for blessings,' the prayer went on. The shoe man said a quiet ‘Amen.’ I tried to focus on the prayer, but my thoughts were on his shoes again. Aren’t we supposed to look our best when walking through the door? Well, this certainly isn’t it, I thought glancing toward the floor. Then the prayer ended and the songs of praise began. The shoe man was certainly loud, sound proud as he sang. His voice lifted the rafters and his hands were raised high. The Lord could surely hear the shoe man’ voice from the sky.
It was time for the offering, and what I threw in was steep, I watched as the shoe man reached into his pockets so deep. I saw what was pulled out and what the shoe man put in…then I heard a soft ‘clink’ as when silver hits tin.
The sermon was about Jesus forgiving and wiping away tears did the message of cleansing reach the shoe man’s ears? At the end of the service, as is the custom here, we must greet new visitors, and show them all good cheer. But I felt moved somehow and wanted to meet the shoe man. So, after the closing prayer, I reached over and shook his hand. He was old and his skin was dark, his hair was truly a mess.
But I thanked him for coming, for being our guest. He said, ‘My name’s Charlie, I’m glad to meet you, my friend.’ There were tears in his eyes, but he had a large, wide grin. 'Let me explain,' he said, wiping tears from his eyes. 'I've been coming here for months and you're the first to say 'Hi.'' 'I know that my appearance is not like all the rest. 'But I really do try to always look my best.' 'I always clean and polish my shoes, before my very long walk.' 'But by the time I get here they're dirty and dusty, like chalk.'
My heart filled with pain and I swallowed to hide my tears. As he continued to apologize for daring to sit so near. He said, 'When I get here, I know I must look a sight.' 'But I yearn to be near others who too flee sin’s plight.' I was silent for a moment knowing whatever was said would pale in comparison, I spoke from my heart, not my head. 'Oh, you've touched me,' I said 'And taught me, in part that you have to meet a man to know his sin-cleansed heart.' The rest, I thought, this shoe man will never know. Like just how thankful I really am, that his dirty old shoe touched my soul.
It’s not that we should judge people by how they look. More importantly the Lord looks at the heart, which we can’t see. Love and peace my friends and live each day as your last. It is not how we look on the outside but how the Lord has renewed us within. You can touch my shoes anytime!
Joe’s Rocking Chair Greetings
Joseph E Stickney November 1, 2019 - Vol 13 No 2
David’s Star EV Lutheran Church