The girls came running back to the dusty camper after a long frolic at the swings and slides. On our way from North Carolina to Colorado, we had driven through the night to reach this first stop in Kansas. The campground was just the place to take a break.
Relishing the freedom of being out of the van, Laura and Beki skipped and giggled as they made their way over to the rest of us. "Girls, where are your shoes?"
"Uh-oh, Mom, we left them by the pool. We'll be right back."
As the bargain queen of the family, I was particularly proud of having found the perfect shoe sale just before vacation. Each child was outfitted with new sandals and sneakers.
I soon saw them slowly meandering down the path--without their shoes.
"Mom, we looked all over, and they're gone. We couldn't find them anywhere."
Determined not to dampen our high spirits, I dug into the suitcase and produced the alternate shoes I'd bought. Our daughters donned their new sandals and were off again for more adventures.
Soon it was time for the girls to turn in, so Dad whistled his particular kind of whistle and the youngsters came running. Preparing them for bed, we realized that their sandals hadn't made it back with them. This time parents weren't quite so patient, sending them back out with strict orders to get their shoes pronto!
Unfortunately, it was a repeat experience--no shoes were to be found anywhere, even after Tom and I combed the area. We even checked the office the next morning, but to no avail. Loading our barefoot daughters in the van, we continued our journey westward.
Before we knew it, we were ready to stop to eat. We approached the restaurant only to find a sign on the door, "No shoes, no service." An hour down the road and four stops later, we continued finding the same, "No shoes, no service" sign.
At that point, Tom told the rest of us to go inside while he and Laura stayed behind. We'd found a scruffy pair of shoes for Beki to wear, but nothing to fit Laura.
Beki and I scooted into the welcome booth. Just as we began to scan the menus, I noticed Beki looking up, her eyes as big as saucers. I turned around to see Tom and Laura walking in, stoic as could be. Little Laura was shuffling along in her Dad's size ten running shoes, while Tom had completed his shorts and shirt attire with a very polished pair of Sunday tie-up shoes without socks!
We broke into uncontrollable laughter, totally demolishing the tension of the whole episode.
As I thought of this story, it reminded me of the Easter season we're celebrating. We're much in the same situation Laura was in. We've been given so much, and yet by our own carelessness or by the robbery of sin, we are left without what we need to gain entrance into the restaurant.
Not only are we unable to get into heaven by ourselves, we also don't have the proper attire--righteousness, a sinless life. It's as if there's a door in heaven with a sign that says, "No righteousness, no entrance."
We've blown it. We lack the "shoes" we need for entrance into heaven. And that's where our Lord comes in. He sees our need and assesses the situation. He knows that we can't ever manufacture the "shoes" required.
So He humbles himself by taking off his heavenly shoes and giving them to us, basically saying, "If you'll be willing to walk in my shoes--even though they're way too big for you--then you can walk through the doors of heaven and enjoy the feast I have prepared for you."
Giving us His shoes to walk in didn't come cheaply for Jesus. His humiliation and suffering on this earth cost Him His life--exactly the price of our being able to walk "in Him."
As we ponder these eternal truths, let's remember that while we're shuffling along in our Lord's shoes, He's there beside us daily, loving, protecting, and making sure we reach our destination.
This is the great and wonderful news of Easter. Hallelujah! Christ is risen indeed!
A freelance writer, Sarah Hemingway writes and speaks on the challenges of raising a happy Christian family. She and her late husband, LtCol Tom Hemingway, USMC, are the former directors of Spring Canyon Conference Center in Buena Vista, Colorado.