Good Shoes

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On my all-time list of best places is a shop from our small town where Grandpa took us for shoe shines.

I remember several endeavors combined in this establishment – a shoe shine station, a roasted peanut vendor and a pipe tobacco & cigar sales area. Hopefully you can imagine the amazing aroma and atmosphere resulting from the combination.

Perhaps you can also imagine the feeling as the shoe guy snapped his towel and buffed out your freshly polished shoes … over the toe, across the laces, deep rub through the instep and fast belting around the heel. However good your imagination, the experience was even better.

Today it’s difficult to find a cobbler, let alone a shoe shine shop. Wouldn’t it be great for old-world craftsmanship and kindness to meet the new generations?

We would put on our Sunday shoes and then walk with Grandpa to the shop. The wonder of the experience itself was multiplied by knowing this was something special to Grandpa – and he was sharing it with us. The older I become the better I can imagine how much he must have enjoyed taking us there.

Back then, all the grown-ups called them “Sunday Shoes.” We didn’t wear them for ordinary activities such as going to school or running out to play. These were not every-day-shoes, they were “good shoes.”

That gives us something interesting to think about. Should there be a distinction between “good” and “every-day?”

It makes me think of the Bible. This famous verse for example, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.” (Isaiah 52:7). Perhaps here the shoes are swapped for “feet”. But it seems to show the special direction is out from God toward people – carrying His love and good news. In this manner of thinking, every-day is special.

I’ve been thinking about the ‘every-day’ of life as we begin a new year. And thinking much about this verse on encouragement.

Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,”

Hebrews 3:13

Encouragement is one of those things we need delivered on a regular basis. Here we are reminded that it is also one of those things we need to be delivering all the time. Maybe our every-day shoes that carry God’s message are the good shoes after all.

Using this experience with my grandpa to think about things, I wonder how it might change my daily life if I imagined God calling to me each day and saying “Eric – got your every-day shoes on? Lace ’em up and walk with me. We’re going to encourage people today.”

It would be very different than a special event that happens once in a while – but not less special. Plus, the listening, caring, encouraging … these would collaborate to make a certain atmosphere and aroma of it’s own – one that’s even better than people could imagined it to be.

What about you? Got good shoes?

I hope we all have people in our lives with great shoes – encouragers. And in this coming year we’ll all become better encouragers. I think God will enjoy that very much indeed.

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