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Who's that man in the fine suit and white socks?



In the 1990s especially, I was a HUGE David Letterman fan. My college roommates and I would watch Dave's talk show every night. We'd laugh at his antics, repeat his funny quips, and, in some ways, model our own behavior after his. Pathetic? Sure it was! But we were just college students in our early 20's, trying to find our way in a very upside-down, confusing, scary world...and Dave provided a bit of comic relief for us. Am I still a big Dave fan today? Absolutely! His new show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction" is a creative and comic masterpiece. But, fortunately, I'm no longer enamored by Dave. I appreciate his humor, but that's where things end.


Of course, there was one aspect of Dave that never caught my admiration...his white socks. Dave would always come on his show dressed in a fine, double-breasted suit or some nice combination of slacks, coat, and tie. But whenever the camera panned to his feet, there they were...peeking out from beneath his pressed pant cuffs...just above the rims of his leather uppers...white (or light gray) socks. They were so out of place! Suddenly the suit seemed much less impressive and Dave much less respectable or debonair. But that was probably the very reason for wearing them...comic effect, self-deprecation, shock value, absurdity, etc. Many comedians use their attire to pay homage to the pseudo-gods of humor. Jerry Seinfeld wears tennis shoes with slacks, Jim Gaffigan adorns his chubby frame with roll-accentuating polos and t-shirts, Michael Richards prefers retro-70s clothing, and Conan O'Brien somehow poofs masses of red hair on top of his head in an impressive architectural wonder. To be a little odd is to be a comedian.


But I think there is something we can learn from Dave's white socks. His attire is, in my mind, such a perfect metaphor for life. Think about it...even though we get most things right in our day-to-day lives, there's always something that makes us a bit absurd--something that puts people off. There are always chinks in our armor. We never wear a perfect suit or wear a suit perfectly. Somewhere there is always a pair of white socks. And though we often laugh at these personal foibles, they can be quite distracting and even frustrating at times. Yet no matter how much we try to refine the suit, those white socks are always peeking out from under our pant legs.


Fortunately, we serve a God who can turn our weaknesses into strengths--our eccentricities into something that He can use to build his Kingdom. We see examples of this throughout the Bible. Moses lacked self-confidence, but God used him to lead a rebellion and exodus. Paul had some sort of thorn in his flesh, but that didn't stop God from making him the early church's greatest evangelist. Rahab wasn't a poster girl for righteous living, but she is nonetheless listed among the righteous in Hebrews 11. Peter demonstrated cowardice, but he was given the keys to the Kingdom. Time and time again, we see God take people wearing fine suits with white socks and do extraordinary work with them!


You know, Dave was a successful talk show host for 33 years, won numerous Emmy's and other awards, and is respected by nearly all of his peers. Were the white socks an effective wardrobe choice? Maybe or maybe not. But it doesn't seem to have mattered much. And neither do our weaknesses when it comes to our lives of faith. As we give them over to God, he'll turn them into something beautiful and award-winning!

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