The Christmas Shoes Song

I had just finished watching a music video by Christian artists, New Song. The site indicated that there had been almost five million others that had previously watched. Although it is well past Christmas, I was motivated to go back and watch the video of a song that I had heard live in concert, because of a very special story that had just been shared with me.

It was December 16, 2005, and Tom Lewis was looking forward to attending a New Song concert that evening at Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Georgia. He had heard their song “The Christmas Shoes” on the radio, and now the group was coming to sing at his church. He was very excited about that, and determined not to miss this opportunity to see the group and hear the song live. (It is my understanding that the young boy that helped them sing the song that night was Austin French, who has grown up to be quite a successful Christian music artist and songwriter.)

Before I tell you this special story, let’s back up a little so I can share a few things about this family. You see, Tom, along with his wife Flo, his daughter Cathy, and grandson Drew, had moved to Warner Robins in 2001. They were a family who knew about church things, but they were not church attenders. Somewhere along the way, all four of them were invited to attend Southside and so they did. Drew was particularly interested in going to church and had persuaded Tom to make it happen. They began attending in August of 2003.
On Sunday, February 29, 2004, they were together in a church service that was packed out. The pastor, Jerry Walls, had finished a message on The Passion of Christ. The movie “The Passion of Christ” was being viewed by millions of people and the pastor put great emphasis on making a personal decision to put your trust in Jesus and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Perhaps due to the size of the crowd, he did not give his traditional altar call for people who would like to talk to a pastor, but clearly explained the gospel and asked people who had never made salvation a sure thing to pray a simple prayer right where they were sitting. He actually led them in that prayer.

When the prayer was finished, Pastor Jerry asked people who had prayed to raise their hands. Four hands went up in the Lewis family. They had prayed that prayer independently and without knowing what the others were doing. All four were born again at one time. What a wonderful day that was here at Southside, and in the Lewis family.

Each family member filled out a decision card, and they took them down front to the steps near the pulpit, and left that day rejoicing in their decisions. The next day a staff member, Charlie Bibb, came to visit them in their home and follow up on the wonderful events that had occurred on Sunday. He went through what they had done and answered any questions. When he asked Drew why he had given his life to Jesus, he responded by saying, “Jesus gave His life for me, why shouldn’t I give my life to Him?” The following Sunday all four members of their family were baptized.
The Lewis family became attending, tithing and serving members of Southside. Their commitment to the Lord and His church was growing deeper and was noticed by many. In fact, Tom was asked to consider serving as a deacon in the church. Unfortunately, he was never able to serve the church in that particular capacity.

Flo had a work schedule that required her to leave in the morning just before he needed to get up. So, on December 16, 2005, as usual, she woke Tom, kissed him, and told him she loved him. (Pastor Jerry had previously reminded his church that life was uncertain, and that they should tell their spouses they loved them every day. Tom and Flo felt like that was a good idea and made it a practice in their marriage.) Tom responded with, “I love you too, and I’ll see you tonight at the New Song Christmas concert.” His plan was to go from work straight to the concert. These were the last words that they would ever share together.
The day was cold as Tom drove to work that December morning, and his truck hit some black ice causing him to lose control of his vehicle and cross over the median into oncoming traffic. The results of this were immediate as his truck was broadsided and destroyed. Tom was immediately in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Life for his wife and family would never be the same.

Flo was at work when she received the call from her daughter, Cathy. Someone who had seen the aftermath of this horrible accident, recognized Tom’s truck, and called her. When they found out where he had been taken, they immediately headed to the emergency room, hoping and praying that he wasn’t hurt too seriously. As they waited for the doctor to give them a medical update, another staff pastor from the church, Randall Nash, met them in the waiting room. They waited for news on Tom’s condition, but when it came it was not from the doctor. It was from the Macon coroner. They were told that Tom had died instantly in the accident. And the tears flowed.

In the upcoming days and weeks, Flo’s mind exploded with anger at God. Why Tom? The only man she had ever loved. Why? The one she had held onto, and had leaned on for 41 years, was gone! She battled with a bitter spirit. Only time and God’s graceful presence in her life could give her the peace she desperately needed.

While Tom was alive, he and Flo had served together at a welcome post at the church and she was determined to continue her work there. That is when her daughter, Cathy, stepped forward and took over the welcome spot that her father had occupied. They continue to serve together in this capacity at the present time. Their warm smiles and welcoming spirits bless visitors and members every week. Is the pain finally gone? No! Have the tears finally stopped? No! (I watched them fall as she told me this story). Has God’s grace and mercy finally won the day in her heart? Absolutely!
In December of 2020, fifteen years after that fateful day, New Song was once again in concert at Southside Baptist Church. There was a gray-haired grandmother in the audience that especially wanted to hear the group sing The Christmas Shoes song that she had missed fifteen years earlier. The same song that her dearest Tom had wanted to hear in concert. (In an unusual twist, my seven year old grandson Joey Cook helped the group sing the song that night.)
As these singing ministers performed their wonderful Christmas song that special night, mercy and grace were very active in the room. So were the tears and the sweet memories of a wonderful man that Flo still loved very deeply and had lost very suddenly. And yet, the Holy Spirit continues to comfort her heart in a special way that only the deeply wounded can understand. I would like to think there will be another concert Flo and Tom will experience together. The one sung by a heavenly choir.

Isn’t God’s grace a wonderful thing?

Roger Allen Cook

I love to write stories about God’s grace.  If you have a story I should consider, please contact me at: