Tomorrow, I preach to our Chinese church about my most recent mission (last month) to Vietnam. The following, from September 4, 2011, is about my first trip.Roughly two weeks ago, I posted hundreds of pictures on FACEBOOK from my mission trip to Vietnam which concluded on August 3. Some of the photos had been posted other people. It is very difficult to navigate FACEBOOK in Vietnam and so I sent pictures and updates to a number of folks and had them place them on their FACEBOOK page for me. A number of the pictures were of the three worship services I was blessed to be a part of. One of the shots (Vietnam 2011, part 2 picture 5) was of Uncle Ten praying for the bread during the Lord's Supper. I am sitting with my eyes closed next to Tom Tune, the missionary I was working with. One custom I struggled to remember was that of taking off shoes when entering a house but there I am, involved in worshipping God, minus my normal footwear. I can't tell how many people viewed that photograph but some might have noticed my barefoot status. There was one comment on the picture and this was it:
i'm in shock...you are wearing socks!!!!
That message was left by Sherri Scott Barber and she noticed something no one else would or even would have considered extraordinary. You see, Sherri and I grew up together in York, Nebraska. We went to school together, first grade through college. Her folks were the friends of my folks and we were in the same Sunday school class from age six on. Her dad was the reason I became a history teacher and Sherri and I had our first teaching jobs at the same small school in Georgia where her father, Dr. Robert Scott, was the principal. Sherri knows that from the time I was in junior high until I grew up that the only times I had socks on my feet were church service and when I was involved in playing basketball or baseball. Her little brother, Jonathan, even swore off the wearing of said footwear and claimed I was his role model. So, perhaps it was not surprising that Sherri discerned a very slight detail which registered on no one else's consciousness.
You have to know a person well to notice the little things. I have two girls that rate my clothes every day at school. Margaret is a third grader and Angela is senior. Margaret has been giving me thumbs up this new year but Angela is harder to please. Last week, she liked what I was wearing but demanded to see my socks to make sure they matched my belt. When she saw one of my socks was inside out, my positive rating suddenly turned negative. No one else bothered to look at my socks that day, or any other day to be honest. Many men pay little attention to their feet but the Lord often does. In the Psalms, references to feet are often correlated to a right relationship with our God. For example:
My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
Or how about:
You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Or consider this well-known verse:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
The Lord obviously considers feet to be important to His children, at least symbolically. I may have overcome my childish habit of going sockless only to fall prey to the inside-out sloppiness which marks many of my getting dressed in a hurry mornings. But to our Father, my feet matter only in regards to where they are planted, in His courts or the courts of the enemy. That's why the Sherris and Angelas of the world matter to guys like me. By watching my feet, they keep me on my toes. And sometimes, those toes get stepped on.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Women speak because they wish to speak, whereas a man speaks only when driven to speak by something outside himself like, for instance, he can't find any clean socks."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org