An American pastor landed down just outside an east African village and was greeted by an elder from the tiny church the pastor had been sent to visit.
“You will stay at my house,” the man said.
“Of course,” the pastor replied. “Thank you for your kind offer.”
The two spent the day greeting the people of the village, attending church, eating, and watching the kids play and dance. After the long day, the pastor was eager to get some sleep when nightfall descended on the near-silent desert.
The elder had a bed and bed frame in his small room that he immediately offered to his American guest.
Happy to see that the man had a mattress to sleep on, the American pastor kindly told him that he would prefer to sleep on the ground. After going back and forth, the elder finally agreed to sleep in his own bed.
With the pastor’s eyes about to fall shut, he noticed the old man slide his sandals all the way under his bed, near the center, just before blowing out the candle.
Hmm, the pastor said to himself. That’s odd.
An entire week went by and every night he noticed the elder do the same thing. Just before blowing out the candle, he would slide his sandals well beneath the bed, a spot that seemed rather difficult to reach. And yet, each morning and day, the pastor would always forget to ask why.
Finally, on the day the pastor was to leave, as the two men embraced and said their goodbyes next to the small plane that would take the American back to the nearest big city, and then on home to the U.S., he finally remembered.
“Oh, before I go, I have to ask you this. Why do you put your sandals so far beneath your bed each night?”
The elder smiled. “When my shoes are far underneath, I must start each morning on my knees.”