The Shoeless Preacher

I got a shock recently. I was in a hotel room, getting ready for the Sunday morning service when I realized that I hadn’t seen my Sunday Shoes.

When I asked my wife about it, she said, “Oh, no!”

Now “Oh, no!” isn’t necessarily that bad because sometimes she does that just to scare me and try to make me think I left whatever I’m asking about at home. But this time she added something that shook me a little. “I’m not kidding.” After 35 years of marriage I know that sometimes she says, “I’m not kidding,” and I can tell she’s kidding.

This time she was serious.

Here I was, far, far from home with a terrible vision flashing in front of my eyes : There I stood in my blue Sunday suit, preaching in my basketball shoes ! I had worn them when I came up the day before. I know I’m supposed to be humble but just the thought of that caused my face to glow a dull red. If I actually had to preach in my dirty white basketball shoes, I would be glowing a bright red from embarrassement.

I’d look like a first class goofus (a goofus is a mentally-challenged nerd).

Fortunately … thank You Lord … my Sunday shoes were in the car. Just like in the fairy tales, I lived happily ever after.

Appearances are important, aren’t they? Ladies spend a lot of time and money cutting, coloring and arranging their hair. Honestly, they sometimes look better when they go into the beauty shop than when they come out. (Lots of husbands are forced into a sort of verbal gymnastics, trying to steer clear of lying while at the same time avoiding reducing their darling into a pile of tears. “That hairdo is really unique, honey. You’ll be the only one at church with hair like that. I admire your creativity.”

We men spend big bucks to buy jogging suits (extra-large waistbands) so that we can stretch out on the couch and watch football games. We think we’re goooood looking.

So that’s why I was a little surprised when the Bible talks about how God revealed Himself to Moses (Exodus 33:18-23; 34:5-10). Moses wanted to see God’s glory, but the Lord warned him that a full revelation of that glory would kill him.

The revelation that Moses had might seem a little disappointing for those who wanted God to make an entrance like players being introduced at an NBA basketball game. If I had been the Lord, I think I would have showed up in style—lightning flashing, thunder rolling, ground shaking and ten thousand angels singing for all they were worth.

And we see a bit of that in the Bible sometimes, because when God shows up it’s impressive. He can’t get away from it. When you’re as big, powerful and wonderful as Him, you can’t hide very well

But the Lord revealed Himself to Moses, hiding His outward appearance in a cloud. The focus wasn’t on outward style but on what God IS.

Here’s the Almighty, distilled into a few words:

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! The Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation … And the Lord said, Behold, I lay down [afresh the terms of the mutual agreement between Israel and Me] a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels (wonders, miracles) such as have not been wrought or created in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord; for it is a terrible thing [fearful and full of awe] that I will do with you.” (Exodus 34:6, 7, 10, Amplified)

Think a minute about those people who’ve had a powerful influence in your life. We’re you impressed with them because they are so good looking ?

Or do you think of how they treated you and invested themselves in your life? I don’t want to say that the people who’ve marked our lives are all ugly (I wouldn’t dare because some of them are reading this) but if those people touched our lives by what they are and how they acted towards us, what does that tell us about what is really important? One commercial says, “Image is everything!” I don’t think so.

How much substance is there in us? Are we growing in our character, changing for the good? Are we different than we were, more like the Lord? Are we investing our lives in others? Or do we spend most of the time on our outward looks and worrying about what people think?

Hard questions but we don’t need to brush them off and say, « Yes, we need to change,” without deciding how we’re going to do it. Stop! Think! Evaluate ! Get moving to change things !

If you found yourself wearing dirty basketball shoes with a Sunday suit during your evaluation of yourself, you might want to slip to your knees and ask forgiveness of the Lord. Ask Him for power to be what you should be. Be good looking in what you ARE.

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