A guest who checked into an inn one night was warned to be quiet because the guest in the room next to his was a light sleeper. As he undressed for bed, he dropped one shoe, which, sure enough, awakened the other guest. He managed to get the other shoe off in silence, and got into bed. An hour later, he heard a pounding on the wall and a shout: “When are you going to drop the other shoe?”
I know that this comes with my anxiety and panic attacks that I get, but I find myself waiting all of the time for the other shoe to drop. I have a peaceful period in my life when nothing crazy is happening (very rare) but I can’t seem to enjoy it because I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop and for all of the craziness to start up again. Or, I’m happy and then I think, this happiness can’t last, something will take away this happiness. Or I receive a blessing, even a miracle in my life for the people I love and I feel ungrateful because I’m always worried about what is going to happen next when the other shoe drops and it all hits the fan. This is a normal part of the background noise in my head that goes on every day, kind of like a toothache, it’s just there. I know, friends and family, that experience this much, much worse than I do and I know friends and family who rarely feel this way but, it still pops up for them too, like a bad penny.
But here is the kicker, the other shoe will always drop, always. It doesn’t matter how good, peaceful, or well things are going at any given time in this world, in a person’s life, the other shoe will always drop and often drop repeatedly, over and over again, like a kick in the head.
This is something that we forget when we think about the miracles that Jesus blessed others with in the Bible, the other shoe always dropped. The paralyzed man that friends lowered through a roof to get to Jesus, was healed by Jesus and could walk would one day lie down again in death. When Lazarus died he was carried to the tomb and his body placed on the slab. After Jesus raised Lazarus and he walked out of the same tomb, the religious authorities schemed about how they could kill Lazarus, either by them or something else, sooner rather than later, Lazarus’s body would have been carried into that tomb again. In our reading today of the Ten Lepers, all of the Lepers including the thankful one get ill once again from one disease or another and pass away. This is part of the truth of our reality, the other shoe always drops.
But, the time we normally live within is between the shoes dropping. It is the time between the good and bad, the peaceful times and the war times, the quiet and the storm. Even though we know something will happen next, even if we don’t know what, if we focus on those unseen events with fear and trepidation we miss out on the joy of the moment and enjoying the good that is present in our lives.
Because we forget that the good didn’t have to happen. I call this the Problem of Good.
Most times, we struggle with the problem of evil, why do bad things happen? But I’ve found that is a much easier question to answer. Simply spend a quick moment watching the news and watching how people treat other people, like they are simply objects for their enjoyment or objects to vent all of their anger upon, these actions pile up, one upon another, generation upon generation, to people that are known and complete strangers, it is no wonder that bad things happen simply because of the evil that is in the human heart. That is only one item on the list of bad things that simply can’t be counted. But good things, in this world of hurt and pain, simply should not exist. Beauty of nature, touch of a friend, companionship of a furry animal, genuine love given to us. These things, in this evil world, should not exist, but they do. That is the problem of good. The problem of good changes how we view the hated other shoe because our perspective of what is normal changes.
When we are afraid of the other shoe falling it is based on an assumption that good things are the normal and bad things are abnormal. Like in the hotel room joke, the good peace and quiet was the normal and the bad shoe dropping noise was abnormal. But in this present evil world things are opposite—bad things sadly are the normal and good things are the abnormal. Which means, surprisingly, that the other shoe dropping is a good thing and good things come with it and every good blessing we receive is another shoe dropping and another and another. If you keep counting up the very strange, abnormal, shouldn’t happen—good things that keep happening to us we can easily become overwhelmed with all of that goodness and blessing in a world that should not have even one blessing in it.
Like rain, the shoes of blessing keep coming down.
Each of these blessings have to come from somewhere and if they don’t come from the cold universe that doesn’t care, let alone know we exist or is conscious of anything at all, then each blessing comes from outside of the universe, from God who gives abundant blessings to all people as a huge sign in the sky pointing the way to God. Like saying, look around you, these good things you have, they shouldn’t exist but they do, and I am the one who is giving all good things to you. Look up and see the goodness of God!
This attitude matters and changes how we live. Do you remember the story of Chicken Little?
Chicken Little likes to walk in the woods. She likes to look at the trees. She likes to smell the flowers. She likes to listen to the birds singing. One day while she is walking an acorn falls from a tree, and hits the top of her little head. My, oh, my, the sky is falling. I must run and tell the lion about it, – says Chicken Little and begins to run. She runs and runs. By and by she meets the hen. Where are you going? – asks the hen. Oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling and I am going to the lion to tell him about it. How do you know it? – asks Henny Penny. It hit me on the head, so I know it must be so, – says Chicken Little. Let me go with you! – says Henny Penny. – Run, run. So the two run and run until they meet Ducky Lucky. The sky is falling, – says Henny Penny. – We are going to the lion to tell him about it. How do you know that? – asks Ducky Lucky. It hit Chicken Little on the head, – says Henny Penny. May I come with you? – asks Ducky Lucky. Come, – says Henny Penny. So all three of them run on and on until they meet Foxey Loxey.
Where are you going? – asks Foxey Loxey. The sky is falling and we are going to the lion to tell him about it, – says Ducky Lucky. Do you know where he lives? – asks the fox. I don’t, – says Chicken Little. I don’t, – says Henny Penny. I don’t, – says Ducky Lucky. I do, – says Foxey Loxey. – Come with me and I can show you the way. He walks on and on until he comes to his den. Come right in, – says Foxey Loxey. They all go in, but they never, never come out again.
Other than, don’t ever trust a fox, living like that always lead us to bad places.
But instead, recognizing that the bad is normal and the good is abnormal, can lead to a life of wisdom, and of course realism, but also a life of constant surprise, not by the bad but by the good. Like a surprise birthday party every time a good thing happens and a blessing occurs. Imagine how different our attitudes would be if we lived like that, always anticipating the good even when we deal with the bad, because we know who the good comes from and how God freely blesses all people so they can look up and see God and believe.
Finally, when all is said and done, for you and me, because of God’s love for us, when we leave this world of expected pain and unexpected joy, the final shoe drops and we receive one more blessing, to dwell in the goodness of God forever.
Until then, enjoy the surprise of God’s goodness and blessings and give thanks to the one from whom all good things flow.