The shoes pictures above arrived just before Christmas but they were not a Christmas present. They do, however, have something in common with John the Baptist.
The reason I received the shoes goes back to October. I was walk/running at the City of Trees Half-Marathon. It was the first of four half-marathons in the Run 4 Heaven’s Gate, to raise money for HIV/AIDS orphans in India.
My primary reason for doing that many runs is to raise money for the kids , but whenever I’m competing in anything, I want to do my best. Let’s be honest for a second. I am a plodding and lumbering man whose best wouldn’t impress many hardcore runners, but to my credit, I wasn’t as slow as I was when I started out years before. I did one half-marathon in July just for fun and clocked in at under 4 hours and was very proud of myself and I intended to do the same in City of Trees.
I started out doing very well for me, but the second half of the race was a lot of getting passed as my leg began to protest around Mile 10 that they were not fans of this whole running thing. Despite getting slowed down, I still had to finish under 4 hours, and then I took a slight wrong down the finish line. I was corrected and back on course in less than a minute. I finished in four hours…and three seconds. I was so annoyed with myself. My teammates were all wonderfully supportive and while I was glad to have finished, I was annoyed at myself though I said little about it.
However, as I was sitting there, eating my after-race snack, a lady came up to me who had been one of the top finishers and told me she was from out of town and gave me a $25 gift certificate to the local running store. Another man gave me a certificate for a new pair of running shoes from La Sportiva saying he was also not from around here. I found this odd because it was a mail-in certificate so he didn’t have to be from Boise. If he were a travelling runner, he might have his own preferred shoes he buys and not want to mess with another brand. Regardless, I didn’t press the point, not wanting to look gift shoes in the mouth.
It occurred to me that if I’d finished half an hour earlier like I had wanted, I probably would not have been around to receive these generous gifts. I would have ate my snacks, waited for the last few of our runners to come in and then gone home. While I hadn’t achieved what I’d wanted and finished later than I would have liked, I’d arrived in perfect time to receive an unexpected blessing.
The Bible is full of people who waited long and hard for God’s blessing. Consider the case of Elizabeth, who probably married Zechariah while she was a teenager. She doubtless was ready for a baby to come within a year or two of their marriage. Yet, the years past and then became decades. She saw her friends and family have children and grandchildren while she had none. However, God had a special blessing for her. She would be the mother of John of whom Our Lord would proclaim, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11).
God’s blessing to Elizabeth is an encouragement to all of us who see others being blessed and wonder if we’ve missed it. We wonder if God will ever do anything in our lives or if he has forgotten us. We can rest assured that God will work in our lives according to his timing. It will not be in the same way as he has worked in the lives of others, but will surprise and maybe amaze us.