Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you
through the wilderness,
your clothes did not wear out,
nor did the sandals on your feet.

Deuteronomy 29:5

A few years ago I attended a niece’s wedding with our then-28-year-old son. Sitting with one foot across his knee as we waited to be ushered out of the ceremony, he told me he had just recently bought a new pair of black dress shoes – replacing the ones we’d bought him for his 8th grade graduation eleven years earlier. Not only that, he swore he was still wearing the same black trousers that he wore for that occasion.

“Seriously,” I asked, “your shoe size hasn’t changed since 8th grade?

“No,” he laughed.

And while his waist is still as slight as it was as an athletic teenager, I can’t believe he hasn’t added at least an inch or two to his height in the last decade. He insists it’s true.

I’m more surprised that those shoes still fit him than that they lasted as long as they did. He probably only wore them once a week, max, for most of those years. The only shoes I remember him wearing to church during his high school years was a favorite pair of soccer shoes. Now as a furniture craftsman, work boots, not dress shoes, are his everyday footwear. Still—eleven years!

“They just sort of fell apart one day,” he explained. “I was walking and felt something squishy. The soles were completely disintegrating.”

I’m delighted with him and for him that those shoes lasted so long. He and his wife are just getting started in life. Avoiding or delaying unnecessary expenses is a big part of their life. They are happy to make do with what they have. I’m thrilled those shoes made do as long as they did.

I think about God’s provision for the Israelites. In forty years of wondering in the wilderness, neither their clothes nor sandals wore out. Not for lack of wear or tear. Surely, forty years of desert wandering would take its toll on footwear. But, God didn’t allow it – and in his mercy and faithfulness brought them through the wilderness intact – shoes and all.

Sometimes I speak glibly of God’s faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning, but I tend to take them for granted. I expect to greet the new day with a modicum of health, food in the pantry, and a plan for the day. It’s good to be reminded that God is not just interested, but is taking care of even the seemingly insignificant details of our life. Like making shoes last.

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