I’m preparing to go outside in the cold to get the mail. The mailbox is attached to an old wooden post by the side of the gravel road. Not a long walk, but the wind’s strong, the temperatures are frigidly low, and there’s snow on the ground. I have on my thickest, feet-warming socks. The only problem is that my fashionable, shiny snow boots with the fake fur don’t like the extra thickness. My attempts to get them over my socks and onto my feet are not going well. I unconsciously make sounds of struggle.
“What’s wrong?” asks my husband, Melvin.
“Oh, I’m having trouble getting my boots on over my fluffy socks.”
“Just wear my boots,” he calls from the kitchen.
His boots are tall, big and simply slip on. Made out of water-resistant thick rubber, they’ve never been accused of being fashionable. But if they could talk, I’m sure they’d have some mighty good stories to tell. They’re farmer boots. They’ve walked through many cold winters and early mornings. They’ve stomped through easy days and hard days. They’ve even seen 30 male pheasants sitting up in a tree trying to keep their feet warm in the dead of winter.
That’s a sight I’d like to see. If I could crochet, I’d make them warm booties for their feet. But they’d probably be particular about the color and the style. Then they’d walk around on the ground and get them dirty. Next, they’d want me to wash them and hang them up to dry. Then they’d be so used to warm feet, they’d have to come inside while the booties were being laundered and they’d probably have to drink some hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows. It could turn into a part time job.
I’m not a farmer, but unwilling to take off my warm socks, I give the farmer boots a try.
Immediately they slip on all the way up to my knees. There’s plenty of extra room. So much so I’m wondering if I’ll actually be able to walk in them. I take a few practice steps inside by the back door. I laugh a little to myself. I feel like a duck wearing oversized snowshoes. The kind that strap on over your boots so that you’re able to walk on top of the snow without sinking in.
As I traipse outdoors, I make it to the mailbox and retrieve the mail without one misstep.
In fact, the more I walk in the boots, the better I become. It reminds me of a child trying to walk on his own. At first, he wobbles and falls down. But eventually he walks upright with confident surefootedness. In fact, he doesn’t even think about the mechanics of walking. He simply walks.
As I turn around to go back home, I see the tracks the boots left in the snow. They’re much bigger than any tracks I’ve left before. They seem sure and solid in their path. Straight and true, they appear as if they know exactly where they’ve been and exactly where they’re going.
And it makes me think. We leave different tracks when we walk in this world alone. We may look confident and assured, but alone our steps are tentative. Alone, we only have ourselves to depend upon. Alone, if we fall down there’s no one to help us back up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about how two are better than one. “…if either of them falls down, one can help the other up… they will keep warm. …two can defend themselves… A strand of three cords is not easily broken.”
I’m not alone. Not only because I’m married now. Not only because I’m blessed with a good family and good friends. But mainly because I know that I never walk alone even if no one else is around. The Lord of the universe is my constant companion. Even though I can’t see him, he leaves tracks in the snow right next to mine.
There have been times in my life when I’ve felt very alone. It’s not a good feeling. That’s when doubt enters in. That’s when fear can threaten to take charge. That’s when hope packs his bags moves out. But once you surrender your life to the Lord and allow him to direct your steps, you won’t always know where you’re going, but you’ll always know that you’re not going there alone.
The Lord made tracks in my heart a long time ago. I’ve never once regretted following him. In fact, I’m thankful that he not only leads, but he walks behind me and protects me and he walks beside me and holds my hand.
And I’m thankful that he brought another person into my life to hold my other hand. One who’s also willing to share his boots.
Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at email@example.com.