Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shoes and Lent

It’s Friday with Phyllis! On a recent cross country flight I was amused over an announcement by the flight attendant. Once airborne, she asked, “Did anyone leave a shoe in the lounge area? If you look down and notice one shoe is missing, please let us know. This could be yours. It’s either a man’s shoe or a large woman’s shoe.” Most people smiled and went back to their conversations. I saw a few men actually look at their shoes! Women did not, as if doing so might indicate their size! Quicker than you can spell “yikes!” the shoe was delivered to the gentleman in the row ahead of mine. At which point his wife exclaimed, “How did you drop that?” It was one of those rugged, open any-person kind of shoe and it had fallen out of his backpack.

With this much time on my hands, it’s a cross country flight, I thought of sayings about shoes. “If the shoe fits wear it.” I even thought, “Walk in another man’s shoes, if they fit. But be sure to look down to see if you’re missing one!” The most famous shoe saying is, “You never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” The man in front of me was truly glad to be able to walk the California miles he looked forward to in his own shoes, both of them.

I remembered Captain Kangaroo telling me on the “Woman to Woman” show years ago that he was very concerned about kids with entitlement attitudes who figured the key to basketball stardom was a certain brand of shoe. Skip the hard work, just get the shoes! Have you heard this quote? “These are my new shoes. They're good shoes. They won't make you rich like me, they won't make you rebound like me, they definitely won't make you handsome like me. They'll only make you have shoes like me. That's it.” This from the very quotable basketball player Charles Barkley (American Basketball Player, b.1963.

During this season of Lent, the 40 days prior to Easter, when Christians contemplate Jesus’ walk to the cross for our sins, do we think about His shoes, His sandals? I do when I read in Acts 13:25 what John The Baptizer said as he was completing his work compelling people to repent of their sin to get right with God. He said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ Interesting point from the man about whom Jesus said in Luke 7:28, “I tell you, among those born of women, there is none greater than John.”

In our Lenten journey, we may give up chocolate or gossip. We may go to church more often than normal. But what other ways can we identify with the Christ during Lent? I’ll be exploring that in the weeks ahead, but for today I’m urging you to pray for Christians who are as radical in their cultures as John the Baptizer was in his. John was martyred for his faith, his head served up on a platter before the king, with no good reason, just at the whim of a girl who’d caught his eye, along with the murderous suggestion of her mother. Persecution of Christians worldwide is at an all time high, no good reason, just political incorrectness or the threat of losing control when people leave other faiths. In the news right now is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's impending execution in Iran. Nadarkhani has been in prison for his Christian faith for over 860 days. A mounting outcry worldwide is calling for his release. He’s one of thousands in that country alone being persecuted for his faith.

We started out with a story about shoes today. We may not be able to walk in Jesus’ shoes, but we can count on Him to walk in ours. He walked in our situations, and worse, when He lived on earth, and all the way to the cross. Because He’s eternal, He still does. He carries us when we can’t walk, in fact.

For more about that we read the Bible and sing hymns like the 17th century, “Let us ever walk with Jesus,” .. ‘follow His example pure.

Flee the world, which would deceive us
And to sin our souls allure.
Ever in His footsteps treading,
Body here, yet soul above,
Full of faith and hope and love,
Let us do the Father's bidding.
Faithful Lord, abide with me;
Savior, lead, I follow Thee.

The rest of that hymn empowers and comforts us in our soul-searching and repentance this Lenten season. May God bless us in our journey and draw us closer to Himself.

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