Since I love God’s creation, anytime I get near the water or the woods I become like a little kid. My hike in Maryland a few years ago was no exception. I was walking along, chatting with a friend having a good old time when my childlike heart became like a homing beacon and spied a fallen log positioned a few feet off the ground. So I left the trail and climbed aboard. I wanted to accept the challenge and walk across, but after taking into consideration that I was wearing my rolled bottom toning shoes, I almost dismounted. As I took the first few steps I even stopped and said, “I probably shouldn’t be doing this in these shoes.” Then I took a few more steps again saying, “I probably shouldn’t be doing this in these shoes.” After almost losing my balance while taking a third set of steps I turned to my friend and exclaimed, “These shoes are not even! I shouldn’t be wearing them!” At that point, I should have turned around, but instead, I continued to move uphill putting one foot in front of the other until I victoriously made it to the other side.
Relishing in my accomplishment, I didn’t take into consideration that the log went up hill, and I was now 3 feet above the ground. I also didn’t think about the consequences of leaping while wearing shoes with curved soles. So when I raised my hands in victory and dismounted, my foot rolled and I crashed to the ground, landing hard on my side.
I’m not sure which initially felt worse, the searing shoulder pain, or my wounded pride. But the fall tore ligaments and dislocated my clavicle, humerus, and radius, keeping me in pain and preventing me from using my arm for almost a year. I could have avoided the suffering had I not been wearing the wrong shoes.
In Ephesians 6 Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God so we can withstand the enemy’s attacks. Along with naming the helmet, the breastplate, the sword, the shield and the belt, he includes the feet…the shoes of peace. Albert Barnes’ notes on the Bible mentions that Roman soldier’s sandals often had nails or spikes to make them hold firm in the ground. I might have avoided the pain had I been wearing a pair of those babies!
I wish I could say my weekend fall was the only time I have forged ahead while wearing the wrong shoes, but the truth of the matter is that there have been many times in my life when instead of wearing the sure-footed shoes of peace, I have stepped out tackling challenges in shoes of self-sufficiency, pride, wrong understanding, fragmented identity, or fear. The result has always been the same—a season of pain.
So with a whole selection of wrong shoes, what are the characteristics of the right shoes—the shoes of peace?
Peace of knowing God-Hebrews 11:6 informs us that we have to have faith in order to please God. I believe that faith is equivalent to trust. Since we can’t trust someone we don’t know, spending time talking with God and reading His Word is paramount to getting to know, not only His character but His heart.
Peace of knowing my identity-Psalm 139 reveals that God knows us intimately. No child can relax in the presence of a disapproving father, but that is exactly how we will feel if we don’t understand our value. The more we understand how much God loves us and approves of us, the more we can rest in His care; even in the midst of trials and tribulations.
Peace of having a thankful heart-Philippians 4:6-8 tells us that along with prayer and petition if we present our requests to God with thanksgiving, our hearts and minds will be guarded in Christ Jesus.
Peace of getting right with God-James 4:4-10 reveals the struggle we have when we are choosing sin. The more we choose our sin, the more we will view God as our enemy. You and I cannot have peace when we are fighting God. When we know how much God loves us and has our best interest in mind we can easily surrender our battles to Him and trust in His plans for us.
Peace of reconciliation- Jesus speaks on the importance of reconciliation in Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (NKJV). Unforgiveness robs us of our peace. Extending forgiveness, whether it be received or rejected, restores our peace.
The peace of the good news-Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). And He is the good news! You and I cannot be at peace and be equipped to fight spiritual battles if we are more concerned about pleasing others than we are about being faithful to God. How can we share the “good news” (gospel) if we are more concerned about our reputations than another’s salvation?
The peace of resting in God’s presence-“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). Resting in God’s perfect love for ourselves and others empowers us and keeps our minds sound (focused on Jesus and His truth.)
When you and I shod our feet with the shoes of knowing God (through Jesus Christ), our identity, thankfulness, reconciliation with God and man, purpose, and resting in His presence, then we can confidently step forward or leap. Wearing the right shoes, even in precarious situations, will help us win battles and receive the blessings God has for us. Thank you, Lord, for such wonderful shoes!
May you be abundantly blessed!