Grace at the Shoe Store 8


Alright. I’m about to get all Jesus-y up in here, so you’ve been warned.

In my Quest for the next marathon, I bought new running shoes. And insoles. I let the nice lady at the fancy running store fit me for a new running bra. While I shopped, other customers entered the store. An older man in denim shorts and a pot belly picked up some information for his upcoming volunteer shift. A mother and daughter argued about the colors and the styles, while I whispered a silent prayer of thanks that I shopped alone rather than arguing with my own teenager. A triathlete known by everyone in the store came in—the athlete’s version of Norm and Cheers—talking about the duathlon she had completed the day before.

My saleslady, Olga, became my new best friend. We talked about our kids, and our running times, and how we keep going on those crummy days. We included the duathlete/triathlete in our conversation; I learned that her mile time would put most men to shame. Zippy.

There we were: fast, slow, young, old, long distance, short distance, soft, muscular. All of us amazing. All of us runners.

Because I think I’m hilarious, I like to joke that three things make me a runner: that I now do interval training (very slapdash and according to no one’s whims), that I completed a marathon, and that I now have a little touch of the plantar fasciitis. I’m so cool.

But this is wrong.

Only one thing makes me a runner. I’m a runner because I run. Done and done.

Still waiting for the Jesus part? Here it is. How about: I had the same experience at the running store that I have at the foot of the cross.

Here we come, dragging our bits and bobs with us, fast, slow, fat, skinny, young, old. We come with our pride and our doubt, our self hatred and our bitterness. We come with our need and our bloody souls.

I can make the same joke. I am a Christian because I read the Bible and pray and seek to live a certain kind of life.

But this is wrong.

Only one thing makes me justified. (It has nothing to do with me.)

I’m a Christian because of Him.

At first, I just thought the salespeople had customer service down cold, and I have to admit I am a big sucker for customer service. Maybe as soon as I walked out the door, Olga had a good laugh over this old mom getting all tricked out in running gear. But I don’t think so. That’s one of the things I love about runners; they tend to be a pretty inclusive and friendly group.

I wonder if we give ourselves the same grace, if we remember that the playing field is level in both stadia. Is it possible that Christians could learn a thing or two from the running store?