September 01

Thursday

 

And my God will supply every need of yours.... —Philippians 4:19 (RSV)

 

We were nearing the end of a year’s experiment in trusting God for everything. For twelve months, my husband and I had been volunteer teachers in East Africa, watching God supply transportation, housing, medical care, schools for our three children. How could I ask Him for something as trivial as a pair of dress-up shoes?

Muddy roads had long since ruined the only pumps I’d brought. I’d taught my final seminar in sneakers. But now we’d been invited to a farewell tea by the first-ever African bishop of a Ugandan diocese. And while I had a black dress that would do, to show up in soiled sneakers would surely look like disrespect.

Even prayer can’t arrange this! I thought despairingly. I’d already been to every shoe store in Kampala. My narrow AAAA foot was hard to fit even at home; the narrowest size I’d found here was D.

The day before the tea I stopped to buy candles and rice at the tiny shop near our house. The “store” was just a counter facing the red-earth road, the stock on shelves behind it. As I’d done everywhere, I asked the Pakistani owner-clerk if he knew anyone who sold shoes. The elderly man leaned over the counter and stared for a long time at my sneaker-clad feet. Turning around, he began pulling things from his shelves: a machete, a bolt of cloth, a can of kerosene. He didn’t understand me, I thought.

At last, from the very back of the top shelf he drew a shoebox. Blowing the red dust from it, he lifted the lid. Inside was a pair of black pumps. There on the road I pulled off my sneakers and tried them on. They fit as though they’d been made for me. As, of course, they were— in a world where our God is also our Father.

Teach me to turn to You, Father, not only with big needs but with the small ones, too.

—Elizabeth Sherrill