Paul's alarm went off... it was Sunday again. He was sleepy and feeling a bit lethargic. This was his one day to sleep in... but the guilt he would feel the rest of the day would have been too much if he didn't get up and go to church.
After a good breakfast, Paul showered, shaved and adjusted his tie. Methodically, he drove the quiet roadways to church. He got there just in time to bow his head in prayer. As Paul closed his eyes he saw the dusty shoes of the man next to him, touching his own shoe. There was plenty of room and he thought, "Why must our shoes touch?" It bothered Paul, but it didn't seem to bother the other man much.
The prayer began: "Our Father..." however Paul's mind drifted off to other thoughts, "This man has no pride. His shoes are dusty, worn and scratched, even worse, there were holes on the sides of his shoes!" "Thank you for your many blessings Lord," as the prayer ended, Paul heard the shoe man say a quiet, "Amen."
Paul tried to focus on the prayer, but his thoughts kept going to the man's shoes. "Aren't we supposed to look our best when we walk through the doors of church? Well, this certainly wasn't it," Paul thought as he glanced towards the floor once more.
Soon the songs of praise began. The shoe man was certainly singing rather loud and proud as he sang. His voice lifted the rafters and his hands were raised high. Surely the Lord could hear the shoe man's voice with no problem, why would he sing so audibly.
It was now time for the offering and as Paul dropped his thick envelope into the plate he saw the shoe man reaching deep into his pockets. Then he heard the soft "clink" of a coin hitting the tin plate.
The sermon bored Paul to tears and it was the same for the shoe man. As tears fell from his eyes he cried out to God, thanking and praising Him for all that He had done in his life.
At the end of the service, it was the custom in Paul's church to greet new visitors and make them feel welcomed. There was no obvious way for Paul to avoid the shoe man, for certainly others would notice. So after the closing prayer he reached over and shook his hand. The shoe man was old, his skin was dark and his hair was a mess, but Paul thanked him for coming and being their guest.
The shoe man quickly said, "My name is Charlie and I'm so happy to meet you, my friend!" There were tears in his eyes, but he had a large wide grin, "let me explain," as he wiped away the tears. "I've been coming here for months and you're the first to say 'Hi' to me.
"I know that my appearance is not like the rest of you, 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 are dirty and dusty again, just like chalk!
Charlie continued to apologize for his appearance and his shoes touching Pauls. It seemed there was a medical condition that caused his feet to curve outwardly. Paul was silent for a moment, knowing that whatever he said would pale in comparison.
Then Paul spoke, and for the first time in a long time he spoke from his heart, and not his head. "Oh, you've touched me and taught me in part, that the best of any man is what is found in his heart!"
The rest, the old shoe man would never know. Like just how thankful Paul was... that the shoe man with his this dirty old shoes... had touched Paul's soul!
We need Jesus in our lives to keep us in tune with each other. We are not meant to go off and do our own thing, we are meant to come together. Gratitude doesn't just come to us, very often we need to cultivate thankfulness, so that joy, peace and love may grow within our heart and minds.
When we allow the Word of God to rule in our hearts and minds, it gives us instructions and directs our words and actions. All that we do must be done with love and thanksgiving and in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.