…Well, not really. But the pair of shoes I am currently using for jogging is in need of replacement. Over the years I have developed quite a pile of smelly, worn out shoes. Some I retire to yard work. Others are still in decent enough shape to wear casually. Still some are suitable to donate to charity. There have been one or two pairs that Amy has insisted I bury deep into the woods at an undisclosed location.
Years ago my method in replacing running shoes was pretty simple: replace them when the soles are worn smooth to the point that you could see my socks or the shoe itself fell apart. I have since learned that if you wait that long to replace shoes you are doing harm to yourself. For a person my size (about 205 pounds, give or take a cheeseburger or two) I should replace my shoes every thirty hours of running. At this point the shoes are not particularly worn to the visible eye. There is still ample tread on the soles and aside from dirt and, well, the aroma of sweat, they are in decent shape. The reason they need to be replaced is that the shock absorption of the shoe is dangerously diminished. The shoe helps take in the pounding of a heavy guy like me and therefore saves my feet, knees and back from too much wear and tear.
I suppose there are all sorts of life analogies that can be made: the danger of wearing others out beyond repair; guests that hang around too long stink; or save your “soul” before it is too late (sorry, I could not resist!). The connection I am mulling over is how necessary we are to each other. We the community of faith surround one another to help absorb the poundings, the shocks and the day to day use that wears and tears on us.
The author of Hebrews writes: “…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (12:1), but this is no individualistic pursuit. Spiritual formation is a journey intended for sharing. We are church not because we say we are, or bear a name, or construct a building. We are church when we hold one another up, absorbing and enduring with one another the impacts, poundings, and shocks inevitably encountered in life.
Paul writes in Colossians 3:13 “Bear with one another…” This is family. This is community. This is Church. Bless you for bearing with me!