My world was closing in and I felt suffocated. My soul was landlocked, hemmed in, and I desperately needed to stretch and breathe. I had looked forward to my vacation at the beach for weeks. Grabbing my camera, I headed out the door of the condo.
The sun warmed my shoulders, though there was a nip in the air. Wind whipped my hair and filled my nostrils with the scent of salt. I walked until my toes were numb and cheeks stung bright red. As the sun dropped I wrapped my jacket tighter. It was uncomfortably cold, but I felt alive.
The ocean and I are old friends and just like the friend you only see once in a while it took no time to get personal … off came my sandals. Waves greeted me with boisterous clapping and the sea hugged my feet, suds swirling, tickling. Toes curled, they sank deep into the familiar embrace of sand.
Rhythmic tide wooed me like sultry jazz and I walked with bare feet up to my ankles in chilly seawater. Just me and the Creator of the expanse of water and sky stretched before me.
I was reminded of the time God met Joshua in Canaan, the land promised to the Israelites. An angelic messenger stood before him and instructed Joshua to take off his shoes because the place was holy. Why, I wondered, did he have to take off his shoes? My mind wandered….
Take off your shoes. Skin to earth. Nothing in between.
Take off your shoes. Barefooted before the Lord. Intimate.
Just like I needed to feel the sand and water on my feet to connect with God, Joshua needed to do the same. There is vulnerability in going without the shoes which offer protection for tender toes. There is intimacy in skin to skin touch. God wanted there to be nothing separating Himself from Joshua, the chosen leader of His people. Joshua, the one who lingered in the tent to hang out with the Lord long after Moses had gone home.
Take off your shoes. This place is holy.
Take off your shoes. God is here. Immanuel.
Let’s think about shoes for a moment. Shoes are protective. Shoes are status. Shoes are attention grabbing. “Oooh, girl, cute shoes! Those heels make your legs look great!”
Take off your shoes.
Now, am I going to put away, throw away, give away, or burn all my shoes? No way! I’m kind of attached to my shoes.
However, I can purify my heart before God. I can take off any means of protection that doesn’t honor God. Anger comes to mind. Also accomplishments, status, pride.
What about those feet? Toes are functional, but they are not beautiful. Unless, of course, they’re one-eighth inch long and attached to a chubby little foot that smells like baby powder.
If there is polish on those nails, it’s probably chipped. There are callouses on those feet. Knobby joints. Dry, yellowed nails. Need I go on?
Take off your shoes for the place you stand is holy!
Your kitchen is holy. Your office. Your grocery store. Your school. The gym, the park, your neighborhood…. It’s all holy, because He is with you.
I find it easy to see God – recognize His presence – when I stand barefoot in the ocean. I am learning daily to recognize Him when I am not.
God invites us to stand before Him bare-souled, chipped, calloused, and knobby. Just bring it all, because the place He is is holy!