A listener wrote, “I have enjoyed and benefited from Mary’s ministry, especially the Fran and Jesus episodes. You are providing instruction in ‘shoe-leather Christianity,’ which is a great need of God’s people.” I really like that term: Shoe-leather Christianity—and I trust that these Fran and Jesus stories are helping you apply God’s Word to your everyday life.

Today, Fran faces a new situation—a relationship problem. After all, aren’t most of our problems relationship problems? If we didn’t have to get along with people, life would be easier, right? But of course, God uses people in our lives to sharpen us, teach us, and mature us.

Fran is very active in the women’s ministries at her church. On Tuesday evenings she leads a Bible study of about ten women who meet at her home. It’s one of the great joys of her life and she looks forward to these Tuesday evenings each week. This week she has invited a new woman to join them, Sally. She met Sally a few weeks ago and Fran has gone out of her way to get to know her. She feels sorry for her because she doesn’t seem to have a connection with her family or with friends.

“Hi, Sally,” Fran welcomes her to the group and introduces her. Everyone tries to make her feel like a part of the group. But as the evening progresses, Sally makes a few remarks that are puzzling.

“Why doesn’t the church do more for single women?” she asks at one point, with an accusatory tone. “I know other churches that help them with car repairs and fixing things around the house. But our church doesn’t do anything.”

The group response is silence; everyone is a bit stunned. After all, Sally is totally new to the church and her criticism seems a bit overdone and inappropriate.

Fran finally says, “Well, Sally, that’s something to think about, isn’t it? Maybe we should consider expanding our ministry to single women.” The topic is pretty much dropped at that point, and the study continues. But there is an uneasy feeling in the group.

As Sally is leaving, Fran tells her again how glad she is to have her join the group. “Well, I sure hope you begin on time next week. You started ten minutes late tonight.”

As the group leaves, Fran feels guilty and deflated. “I guess we just don’t meet Sally’s expectations,” she thinks. “Well, I’ll call her tomorrow and see what I can do to help the situation.” Fran goes to bed thinking that with a little more effort, she can make Sally happy.

Can she?