As I sat down to write, I was reminded of the time I lost my sandal. And if I’m being honest, I thought that was a stupid idea. So, I walked away, made a cup of tea, and prayed…
Sandal, still. Hmm. Okay.
They won’t follow a stranger….
My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
(John 10:5, 27 NLT)
It was a family picnic day at Cowans Gap State Park. We didn’t always, but on this particular day, we brought our kayak. And as usual, I enjoyed my time on the water – it was peaceful. When I’d finished, though, I came to shore at a spot slightly different from where I’d launched. Mistake. As I stepped out into the shallow water, I immediately began to sink thigh-deep into nothing but muck. I was still a few feet from solid ground, and as I labored to pull each leg out of the mud, step-by-step, one of my sandals slipped off my foot.
It’s important you understand that this wasn’t just any sandal…it was my favorite sandal! It was perfect in every way. More importantly, it was also discontinued. Knowing this, I had bought two pairs originally. I was down to my last pair. And oh, the horror! The mud and the muck had just swallowed one whole!
My family was far less dramatic about my predicament. In fact, they were laughing. Understandably so, because after tossing my remaining sandal to safety, I quickly began to shovel up the dirt and sediment of the lake bottom. I can’t tell you how long I stood there, waist-deep in muck…slowly sinking even further down like quicksand…blindly seeking that precious item I’d lost. It was, however, long enough for my family to start pleading with me to come to shore. I was also drawing the attention of a stranger.
As I turned around, and crawled out of that lake, picking up the lonely sandal that remained, I could hear a tiny whisper…one more time, Erin. Mind you, my entire family – people whom I love and trust – were all convinced otherwise. It wasn’t worth it, they said. Give up. I was starting to believe them, too. If it wasn’t for that whisper…one. more. time.
I had nothing but peace treading back into that lake…into the muck and darkness. Darkness, truly, because not only was the sun beginning to set, but the amount of sediment I had stirred up only made murky waters. Truth is, I was no longer certain of the exact spot my sandal had disappeared. At any time, I could have been inches to feet away. But this time, as I pushed that kayak paddle down as deep as it would go into the lakebed, I whispered Help Me…and then I stirred it all up…one last time.
You may not believe this, but up popped my sandal. And with hardly any effort at all. I am not ashamed to admit that I proceeded to run victory laps around my family. All in good fun, of course. Even better, because by then, we were all laughing – truly, it had turned into praise.
But here’s the key: Somewhere in between the struggle and the victory, my perspective shifted. I took my eyes off the sandal – that impossible task – and put them solely on the One who is able to restore. Sitting down to eat that evening, I knew in my heart that God was with me. Take it from someone who has walked through some very trying times, God’s presence is all you need. Somehow, His victory becomes your praise, your story, and your song – and into His gates, you can enter with true thanksgiving in your heart (Psalm 110:4).
The more I am writing this, the clearer I hear His whisper once again. Perhaps you’ve lost something, and I don’t mean a silly sandal, but something far more precious. Perhaps it was complicated by a mistake. You tried to fix it, out there on your own, but nothing worked. And God knows, you did everything you could think of at the time to get it back. Only no matter how hard you dug, or how many attempts you mustered, there was still no reclaiming what the deep had stolen.
Some things we are absolutely meant to leave at the wayside. It’s the still small whisper that I pray you don’t ignore. Can you hear it…now? In the back of your mind, refusing to let go? Even if and when the entire world tells you something different – because it will – I encourage you to listen to the one who is faithful and true. I won’t lie to you; I know it’s not easy. It’s getting harder too. Today, we have too many voices, spreading too many lies, and our hearts are hardening to what’s authentic. But this is when and where you lean into scripture… Love doesn’t quit (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 / 2 Corinthians 4:8-9). And God loves you so much. And He’s patient too, and enduring. Like none other, He’ll keep repeating the same message, again and again, for however long it takes you to believe it. This I know beyond all doubt. He’s not going to quit, but neither can you.
One more time, . You’re not alone.
The truth is my story could have ended a lot differently. I could have easily ridden home barefoot in defeat. The deciding factor was only He who was at my side. That doesn’t mean I win every battle…it just means I’ve learned to listen. And what I’ve learned is this: Sometimes, heeding God’s voice looks a little silly to the world. In fact, sometimes it looks like you’ve completely lost your mind – waist deep in stinky lake mud, angrily responding to the stranger on the bank, “I don’t know, but God’s voice told me to do it, so I’m doing it!”
Stop letting the enemy distract you with what’s been lost, and get your eyes on the One who is able to restore. Then tell that Stranger to move along, because this child belongs to the Lord!
~ Luke 15:22 ~
Whatever you’re missing, chances are, you can find it in your Father’s house…
Sometimes she writes truth, and sometimes she writes fiction. But no matter what, her heart is to write in such a way that everyone might see God, as she has come to see Him – with utmost wonder and uncompromising belief.