Touching souls

I am currently reading Philip Yancey’s ‘The Jesus I never knew’ and amongst other things, it reminds me that Jesus’ followers were not the elite of his day – far from it: a hot-head fisherman and his brother, a traitor-in-the-making, a discredited ex-tax collector, not to mention a woman of possibly questionable morals. For this I thank God – I do not need to be perfect to reach out to Him – perhaps the pre-requisite is precisely that I realise I am not.

As it says in 1 Corinthians 1:27: ‘But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.’ (NIV.)

I may not be perfect … but I am chosen.  In good company with the vertically challenged and hated tax collector who climbed a tree to see the passing teacher and to whom Jesus proclaimed: “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19 v 9.) In good company too with  the woman who poured out perfume on Jesus’ feet in Matthew 26 who Jesus said had ‘done a beautiful thing’ (v10 – NIV) but who was scorned by others.

Jesus was followed by sinners and tax-collectors – the scorned of his society.  This leads to a further challenge – if Jesus welcomed and accepted those people who were not welcomed and accepted by anyone else – how can I, as one of His followers, do otherwise?  Are our churches open to all who want to enter – even if they do not fit our image of what a Christian looks like? The single mum struggling to bring up her kids, the tattooed and heavily pierced ‘Emo’ youth, the old man who props up the bar in the local pub.  How do I reach out and connect with them, reach their soul with the miraculous news of God’s grace and forgiveness, knowing that I am equally needy? As has been said, ‘One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.’ (D.T. Niles.)

God please challenge my preconceptions and enable me to see all I meet through your eyes.  Help me to meet another in their need and point them to You. Amen.

The following was sent to me by a friend (the content is not mine but if anyone knows who wrote it, please let me know so I can give them proper credit.)


I showered and shaved………….. I adjusted my tie.

I got there and sat………….. In a pew just in time.

Bowing my head in prayer……… As I closed my eyes..

I saw the shoe of the man next to me….. Touching my own. I sighed.

With plenty of room on either side…… I thought, ‘Why must our soles touch?’

It bothered me, his shoe touching mine… But it didn’t bother him much.

A prayer began : ‘Our Father’…………. I thought, ‘This man with the shoes, has no pride.

They’re dusty, worn, and scratched. Even worse, there are holes on the side!’

‘Thank You for blessings,’ the prayer went on.

The shoe man said…………… A quiet ‘Amen.’

I tried to focus on the prayer……. But my thoughts were on his shoes again.

Aren’t we supposed to look our best. When walking through that door?

‘Well, this certainly isn’t it,’ I thought, Glancing toward the floor..

Then the prayer was ended……….. And the songs of praise began.

The shoe man was certainly loud…… Sounding proud as he sang.

His voice lifted the rafters…….. His hands were raised high.

The Lord could surely hear. The shoe man’s voice from the sky.

It was time for the offering…… And what I threw in was steep.

I watched as the shoe man reached…. Into his pockets so deep.

I saw what was pulled out………… What the shoe man put in.

Then I heard a soft ‘clink’ . As when silver hits tin.

The sermon really bored me………… To tears, and that’s no lie..

It was the same for the shoe man…. For tears fell from his eyes.

At the end of the service…… As is the custom here.

We must greet new visitors, And show them all good cheer.

But I felt moved somehow………….. And wanted to meet the shoe man.

So after the closing prayer…….. I reached over and shook his hand.

He was old and his skin was dark….. And his hair was truly a mess.

But I thanked him for coming……… For being our guest.

He said, ‘My names’ Charlie………… I’m glad to meet you, my friend.’

There were tears in his eyes…….. But he had a large, wide grin.

‘Let me explain,’ he said……….. Wiping tears from his eyes.

‘I’ve been coming here for months…. And you’re the first to say ‘Hi.”

‘I know that my appearance…………’Is not like all the rest.

‘But I really do try……………..’To always look my best.’

‘I always clean and polish my shoes..’Before my very long walk.

‘But by the time I get here……….’They’re dirty and dusty, like chalk.’

My heart filled with pain………. And I swallowed to hide my tears.

As he continued to apologize………… For daring to sit so near

He said, ‘When I get here…………..’I know I must look a sight.

‘But I thought if I could touch you..’Then maybe our souls might unite.’

I was silent for a moment……….. Knowing whatever was said

Would pale in comparison… I spoke from my heart, not my head.

‘Oh, you’ve touched me,’ I said……’And taught me, in part;

‘That the best of any man……………’Is what is found in his heart.’

The rest, I thought,………………… This shoe man will never know.

Like just how thankful I really am… That his dirty old shoe touched my soul


About francesgabriel75

Just thinking out loud about faith, children and church. Born in Dorset but now living too far away from the sea, which still calls to me, occasionally. Make my living in the world of education.
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2 Responses to Touching souls

  1. Love this! Sometimes the people we so quickly choose to overlook are the exact people that Jesus would have been looking for and befriending if He was in our shoes. Great post!

    • Exactly. Something someone at church said challenged me the other day – the people who start coming in to our church are not going to look like typical church-goers he thinks – and we will be challenged – and should be – to see them through Jesus’ eyes.

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