Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in New York City, apartment buildings were built with the same floor plan. One story of the complex was put directly on top of another story, and so on. That left bedrooms directly beneath one another. At night, someone would crawl into bed and fall asleep when they heard a thump directly above them. Their upstairs neighbor was taking off their shoes as they prepared for bed. Dropping the discarded shoe on the floor seems like nothing significant unless you live directly below the thud it creates. 

Once awakened, the person on the lower level would “wait for the other shoe to drop” before attempting to fall back asleep. Over time this became an American expression. It was shorthand for saying that you are waiting on something inevitable to happen, usually something unpleasant. It was used in print as early as 1921 and was engrained as an idiom by the 1940s. 

Numerous people spend their lives waiting for the other shoe to drop. They committed a sin, and now they are waiting for something terrible to happen as God’s way of punishing them. Some of them even walked through the initial pain of their mistake being made public, and now they know something else bad will happen. A few have even confessed it to God and possibly a trusted friend, but they are still convinced that future pain is inevitable. 

Today I just want to remind you that as a follower of Jesus, we believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was to pay for all of our sins. He died and took our punishment on himself. He is our substitute which gives us atonement with God. 

One challenge in the life of faith is to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. God is not an angry upstairs neighbor waiting for you to get comfortable in your life before he rattles you with some loud event. He is a gracious and loving God who deals with sin directly through the death of his son. He punished him in our place, and now we do not have to punish ourselves while we wait for the jarring thump of God dropping something else disruptive in our lives. Shoes drop in apartments in NYC, not in your life with God.        

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