This was a story my mother wrote that was published in the Penticostal Evangel in July ’74. Thought I’d share it…
The Red Sock Lessons – by Mary Ann Coppinger
IT WAS AMUSING but it ruffled my dignity and my spiritual security. It happened at the annual Ladies Fellowship Banquet of Bethel Temple, Sacramento, California.
The festive decorations were beautiful, and in the candlelight they created an enchanting atmosphere. I came to the banquet thinking I was as well-dressed as my neighbor. I wasn’t concerned about the bulge in the left pocket of my best knit coat. I took for granted it must be my black cloth gloves.
While chatting with a friend I took the gloves out of my pocket and held them before me in true womanly fashion, continuing the conversation without even looking at them. Suddenly I noticed a peculiar look on my friend’s face. I glanced down. To my horror I was holding one dirty red knee sock which was folded over, exposing a big hole in the heel! I was as shocked as she was. We both had a good laugh, and I quickly thrust the red sock back in my pocket before anyone else saw it. But my dignity was wounded.
I chuckled to myself throughout the evening whenever I thought of the dirty red sock – and I wondered how it had ever gotten there. But my attitude changed during the musical program when our guests sang about the coming King. I realized again that Christ is coming soon. I would then stand before Him and have my entire life unfolded. Would I really be an acceptable Christian? Or would I stand there and hear Him say, “Mary Ann, you look well-dressed outwardly, but inside there’s that dirty red sock. Depart from Me.” Could this happen to me? Could there be a dirty red sock nestled in a pocket of my heart? Was there any bitterness, any criticism, any pride? Could there be hidden a vile tongue?
All these would hinder the Holy Spirit from being effective in my life. Scriptures of warning flooded my mind: “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). “There is a way that seemeth right . . . but the ends thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Then flowing through my thoughts came the prayer David expressed in his distress: “Search me, 0 God, and know my, heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).
I want no surprises on Judgment Day! I want to be completely acceptable when I stand before God. I not only want to look holy; I want to be holy. That night when I threw away the dirty red sock, I thanked the Lord for the lessons I learned.
But that wasn’t the · end of the matter…
The following Sunday morning a friend said to me, “Mary Ann, your daughter left her socks at my house. We found one and returned it to Karen last Sunday night. This week I found the mate under the bed.” And she handed me a sparkling clean, absolutely perfect red knee sock. Here I was again with a lonely red sock. Since I had destroyed the first one, I saw no reason for keeping a mate less sock.
Soon after I thanked my friend, I threw the sock in the wastebasket in the choir room. After church that morning I noticed another choir member going out the door with that red knee sock in her hand. “What are you going to do with that?” I asked. “Why, I found this perfectly beautiful red sock in the wastebasket,” she exclaimed-almost in disbelief. “Someone threw it away, and ‘it was just what I need. Look. It has no holes or anything. I can stuff it and tie it and make a darling puppet for the children. They’ll love it!”
On the way home my husband and I shared a laugh over the continuing comical episode. But there was still another lesson the Lord wanted me to learn. I thought about that sock in the wastebasket, lonely and useless. If it had intelligence, it certainly would have felt rejected. Could this be the case of many Christians who have let the circumstances of life overshadow faith and trust? Naturally speaking, it is a comfortable position being folded neatly in rest – proud of our clean appearance, and not a hole to mar our usefulness.
But the sock was headed for destruction unless it was removed from the wastebasket. For this sock there was a happy ending. It was at the right place and the right time-it was available. Someone came along and snatched it from destruction by recognizing value others could not see.
Then the Lord questioned me: “Where are you, Mary Ann?” I spent several sleepless hours searching my heart. My voice was weak and full of chagrin as I finally answered; “Here I am, Lord. I’m here in the wastebasket.” What a predicament! But let me share what I found in 2 Timothy 2: 19-21: “The Lord knoweth them that are his …. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. [Some are always in the wastebasket.] If a man therefore purge himself . . . he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and fit for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
Then I understood more clearly than ever before the true meaning of the statement I have so often heard: “God doesn’t need our ability nearly as much as He needs our availability.”
As I “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” I pray daily, “Lord, I want to be a vessel unto honor; so please snatch me out of the wastebasket!” ~