and other assorted dire predictions – pastimes of the anxious, the fearful and the overwhelmingly worried . . . who doesn’t fit into one of those categories at one time or another? Even today’s sermon was on anxiety, an attempt to define it, to identify it, to pin it down – but
it is often as elusive as its causes, we can’t quite get a handle on our anxious feelings. We are living as if we are waiting for the other shoe to drop, in a perpetual state of alert and anticipation, an anticipation filled with dread, of something we cannot predict nor control. We find ourselves waiting on this next event, (the dropping of the other shoe) – something expected yet unexpected, something known (maybe from the dropping of the first shoe?) and yet unknown all at the same time. How to prepare? What to do?
It is unexpected in that we don’t know when the other shoe will drop, where it will happen or what form it will take. So we can’t plan for the dropping of the other shoe, we can’t add it to our schedule and make the necessary arrangements ahead of time to accommodate this inevitable event. It will happen when it happens. All we can do is to wait.
And we don’t like waiting, waiting and wondering, waiting and watching and wondering. And listening . . . that’s where this expression got its start – in the tenements of New York City, with apartments on top of each other, one would hear one’s upstairs neighbor enter, take off one shoe and drop it – then would follow the sound of the second shoe hitting the floor. It was predictable, it was the sound of the inevitable.
Today we use these words as an expression of our expectation that something undesirable is going to befall us, we just don’t know what or when – we are just waiting for “it” to happen. In the tenements, there was just one other shoe to drop and it was done. Today we all have so many shoes that it seems as if there is an inexhaustible supply of other shoes to drop.
So how do we live? Watchfully waiting, eagerly anticipating or defeatedly dreading what is to come? I think it all depends on what we are waiting for.
“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” (Psalm 33:20)
“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:23-25)
I like the translation (AMP) that says we wait with patience and composure. To me composure is the opposite of worry, anxiety or fear. We don’t have to live life always looking over our shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop. We can live life looking forward, forward to what we have been promised. And those promises are good, not something that would cause us anxiety, fear or worry. (like falling shoes)
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)
” . . . to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:12-13)
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)
We can have peace and joy and comfort as we wait in hope for the things that God has promised in His word. There may be shoes dropping all around us, even hitting us but we know –
” . . . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
I don’t have to live anxious, fearful or consumed by worry, waiting for the other shoe to drop. No, I can live with hope in the certainty of God’s promises and I can wait with patience, composure (which to me means being at peace) and persistence, knowing that when I do, I have this promise from Isaiah 40:31,
“but those who hope on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
and they will not fear the dropping of the other shoe!
sincerely, Grace Day