Sunday, September 30, 2007

He Even Cares About Tennis Shoes

This weekend was glorious. Our family life ministry at Emmanuel Brinklow SDA had designated this to be the family life weekend retreat at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center in Gettysburg, PA. First of all, it's a beautiful ride from the D.C. area where I live. Secondly, being in fellowship with folks that are all working on a spiritual program was indeed a blessing. There was much laughter, great food, prayer, tears and bonding - not to mention - FUN!. I felt uplifted and included. I "realized" my larger family in Christ - now, I have a pretty big "adopted" one to begin with...but this was an order of magnitude larger. I got to know folks that I never would have known had we not spent time together in this kind of atmosphere.

Pastor Brenda Billingy (Yes, I said PASTOR) of the Bladensburg SDA Church was our guest speaker. She was indeed a blessing to us all. However, one of the things that she talked about was how we as believers ask God for something, and then are absolutely gob smacked when it actually happens. We say we believe, but then when the rubber meets the road, we don't fall into our belief with faith in our safety net. I struggle with this every day. I KNOW intellectually, that God cares for me. And more than that, I have evidence in my life of His leading and caring hand. But I seem to suffer from some sort of spiritual amnesia when things go wrong. I must constantly be reminded (one of the biggest reasons I need fellowship), by those on the same spiritual path of what God can and will do for us.

That brings me to my story today. This morning at the end of our weekend retreat breakfast, I was struck with severe stomach pain. Pain that almost didn't let me stand up. I knew that even though it was pretty much checkout time, I had to go lay down for a few minutes. So back to the room I went. The distress was such that I was thrown off of my normal leaving a hotel room routine. You know - the room sweep for stuff you might have forgotten to pack. When it was time, I just zipped up my bag and dragged myself downstairs to the car.

Everyone was saying goodbye and pulling out for home. My friend and I did likewise. She drove and I napped. It was an uneventful and safe ride. As we pulled into my parking space at home, it occurred to me that I had not seen my tennis shoes. I had the sinking feeling that they weren't in my bag.

Now, I need to be honest here. Money is tight these days, and I only have one pair of sneakers. I use this pair solely for the workout program that I have had to undertake recently for health reasons. I usually leave them at the gym in my locker, but this weekend, deciding that I might like to go for a walk, I took them with me. Losing them would not be a good thing.

I walked into the house and dumped my bag. No shoes. My head started spinning. What would I wear to the gym tomorrow? Would I just not be able to go? How can I afford (with all the stuff coming up) to replace those shoes? I sat on the steps and started to cry and pray. I poured out my heart to the Lord about how much I'm trying to do the right thing in life but feel as if everywhere I turn there's a setback. I talked about how much I felt blessed this weekend only to come home to deal with yet another problem. My head continued to spin. Would I have to pull out a credit card (which I'm really against) to replace the shoes and incur debt that I'm trying to stay away from?

I called the hotel. No one could really help me. They wanted me to call back tomorrow and speak to the lost and found people. I needed shoes to workout tomorrow. (See, once I'm off a set program, it's extremely difficult for me to get back to it) I didn't even know that they would be able to find them and get them back to me. I wrote down the name and number to call on Monday with resignation.

I picked up the phone to seek advice. I called my mom. I CALLED MY MOM. I CALLED MY MOM SEVEN TIMES. I had just left her house a few minutes before and knew she was home - but each time I called, the phone went straight to the busy message. Mom has call waiting. I thought it strange, but decided to call someone else. Someone who was with me all weekend. After I shared how I was feeling, she told me to go into my car and buy the shoes - but before leaving she told me that I should ask the Lord to help me find a pair of gym shoes that I would be able to afford. She also told me that when I got back, that I should call her and tell her what the Lord had done about my request.

I did just that. Then, I pulled out of the parking space and headed towards the mall. In the meantime, I stopped for what turned out to be a half an hour trip to MacDonald's for one silly ice cream cone (doesn't ice cream always make you feel better?). Got the cone and got back into the car. At the light, my cell phone rings. It's my good sister friend who was also in Gettysburg for the weekend with her family. I ask, are you home yet? Expecting her to say that she was there or very near. No, she said. I'm still in Gettysburg. WHAT!?!?!! REALLY?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? They had stayed after everyone else had gone, to do a bit of sightseeing. In my heart, I knew that was an answer to prayer. Here I am, on the way to the mall to look for a new pair of shoes after asking God to provide some that I can afford, and my friend is 2 minutes from the place where my FREE pair was.

I asked her to return to the hotel and check for them for me. The hotel graciously gave her a key to the room and after talking to the cleaning ladies who had JUST FINISHED cleaning my room, the shoes were in hand and on their way home.

When my friend called to tell me that she had the shoes, I shared my prayers. She also mentioned that when she returned to the hotel, that there was not a soul in sight from our retreat. All were long gone. Only she was close enough to return to look for the lost sneakers.

God had everything in place before I realized I had a problem. The Spirit was on hand to push my friends to sightsee long enough to be of service later in the day. He answered my prayer for affordable shoes in a mighty way. I DID NOT HAVE TO BUY ANY - and to boot, I didn't even have to wait another day to get them.

Again, I was reduced to tears at God's love for me. I often behave as if I think that he doesn't care about the little stuff. The mundane. But this was important to me. And because it was important to me and he LOVES me, it was important to him.


I went to pick up the shoes from my friends house after her return from Gettysburg. At the door as she handed me the bag, I noticed that it did not look the way I'd expected. Taking the bag from her hand, I opened it and looked inside. Not one pair - but two. I had packed both pairs of shoes (tennis and dress shoes) in one bag - and never put the bag in my case. How good is God? Before I knew the magnitude of the loss, he'd already made the restoration.

Again I was directed to Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Oh, and don't think that I forgot to call and share my story after it was over. When I called, she also said - "I bet if you call your mom now, you'll get through to her". Here's the scary part. I called, and she answered the phone. She had been home all the time, and had just removed the battery from the phone without hanging it up - thereby causing the line to go busy for the entire time I was trying to reach her. You see, I know this as well, being a mom (who loves me very much), she might have just said - girl, go get the shoes, I'll take care of it. But God had lined up a reason for me to praise His name and share his goodness (over a small pair of tennis shoes) and was not to be outdone by my moms good intentions. :-)

All I can say is.... Don't be afraid to take even the small stuff to the Lord.

He cares about everything - even your shoes.


Anonymous said...

Stephanie - Thank you Thank you thank you for your testimony! You can't even begin to know how much I needed to read it and be reminded of God's love and care for me! I could barely get through reading your "blog" without filling up. I too suffer from the same spiritual amnesia and have recently started a spiritual journal to help me remember both my pledges to God and His answers to my prayers. I'm so glad you went on this retreat and had such a good experience. Thank you again for sharing your testimony. I must go now and spend some time in prayer thanking God for what He's gonna do for me this week! Love ya.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting me to take the time to read this. I was saving it for a later time without distractions. i.e. not at work. What a mighty God we serve. Able to keep the worlds in place, orchestrate the return of your sneakers and get some praise from a faithful servant.
This message is for me however. My lot is to pray hard and long for the same thing over and over. But my God surely will deliver. Thanks for the reminder. Now I will take OFF my shoes and praise Him!