The Miracle of the Indestructible Socks
Last month, in a quiet family ceremony, I finally retired my most revered socks: a snug pair of two-tone ankle-height blue fleecers from L.L. Bean. These were not just any socks; they were the kind of apparel that had a history and even an origin story. I bought them in 1993 on a weekend road trip to Freeport, Maine with some friends from Vermont. They were tucked away in the factory seconds store across the street from the L.L. Bean mothership. They were $6. I don’t know why I remember all this, but I do. Some clothes are like that. They don’t make these socks anymore, to my shock. Don’t be fooled by the modern substitute; the new Bean fleecers are too long, too unbreathable, and too thrifty on the elastic. The 90’s vintage socks were foot-perfection.
Those socks reigned in the top drawer of my dresser for twenty-seven years. Twenty-seven years. Some nations haven’t been around that long. And I know that some people take methodical care of their clothes, but that’s not me. I take no credit. The bottom line is that these socks were factory-stitched to perfection, and they were built like tanks. Soft, buttery, cozy tanks.
But this clothing miracle pales in comparison to something far more astounding. In Deuteronomy 8:3-4, as Moses recounts God’s care for the Israelites in the wilderness, he reminds them,
“He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.”
We talk a lot about the manna—a miraculous daily provision of a divine recipe (I picture Frosted Flakes). But how could Israel not also acknowledge the miraculous gift of indestructible clothing? My champ socks have nothing on a 40-year-old leather sandal that’s tromped daily through Middle Eastern sun and sand without invoking even a blister.
Imagine this long-view miracle for a moment. I assume that a typical B.C. day in a Palestinian desert would punish the average tunic enough to challenge the claims of a Tide commercial. Hard work and hard wanderings would take their toll. These garments weren’t lovingly laundered in a Maytag and stored in a dresser until called into service again. Instead, their daily usage and daily wear spoke a need as great as the daily bread that littered the camp every morning. And God provided. No fraying or patching or unraveling or rips. There was always a covering—and not just for the individual, but for the community. There must have always been another size-up sandal for a growing toddler to transition into, as the camp shared indestructible hand-me-downs in history’s most miraculous consignment.
Jesus assures us of a steady providential provision, and exhorts us not to be anxious about things like clothing; lilies and grass are divinely adorned, and “Will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30) But he also acknowledges that clothes wear out, and moths will have their fun (Matthew 6:20). Man does not live by bread—or socks—alone. There is a better covering.
Humanity’s first attempt at clothing was a solid disaster (Genesis 3:7). To be properly covered cost something; God’s provision of animal skins (Genesis 3:21) reminds us that something had to die to cover our shame—and that God was willing to provide that covering. That gift to Adam and Eve anticipated a covering that would never wear out, a righteousness by faith that we could be eternally clothed in (Isaiah 61:10). God’s indestructible line of Israelite apparel in the desert foretells a better clothing that will never, ever disappoint us.
Yesterday I sat bedside with a dying friend and we recounted our hope. “The grass withers and the flower fades,” I read to him, “but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) Did Isaiah know that this ‘Word’ would be made flesh and dwell among us? Could he have anticipated that God would clothe himself in frail humanity, and expose that humanity on a cross?
“Your body is giving out,” I told my friend, “but you’re connected by faith, body and soul, to a savior whose promises never fail.” Like Isaiah, we might have a hard time seeing over the next hill, picturing the realities of God’s promises. But we know this: a corruptible body anticipates an incorruptible newness. And in the meantime, Jesus takes meticulous care of his possessions: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3).
We are given astounding promises of a care that will never wear out. It begins this morning, with new mercies and daily bread and custom-made compassions. But it continues indestructible to eternity, a clothing that does not wear out because it’s factory-stitched by an incorruptible Savior, and purchased by his own blood. In fact, the covering is his blood (Revelation 7:14). By faith our shame is covered, and one day we’ll see it manifested in a white robe that will never need replacing.