Wearing the Wrong Shoes
Until recently, I haven’t been fashionable when it comes to shoes. As a teen, I wore socks with sandals despite the better advice from my sisters. I did eventually wise up and eliminated that style from my wardrobe. Still, today I wear “toe shoes.” And not just for running, though I did buy them for running. I wear them with business slacks … to work. Despite this tendency towards poor choices in footwear, recently I bought a pair of red TOMS wedges that are actually fashionable. And, to the best of my poor judgement, I think I am matching them appropriately with my clothes. (It is convenient that these being red shoes, the ‘rules’ for matching are loose.)
A few months ago I began volunteering for Streetlight Phx on the security team. On my second shift it became clear to me that the security needed was against spiritual powers. (Eph. 6:12) I began talking to God about the elements of the armor of God, listed in Ephesians 6:10-20, as I walked the campus. Eugene Peterson translates that passage with this summary, “Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long.”
So I took my five hour shift and prayed one hour each for Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, and Salvation. Often praying other scriptures from God’s Word as they came to mind. In June, at Kids Camp, I memorized the Ephesians 6:10-20 passage which was their “Challenge Verse” for the week. So from time to time I think about the metaphor of “putting on armor” as I talk to God about these five elements. For example: Asking God to help us remember the importance of Truth as a belt holding up all of the other elements. Asking that the breastplate righteousness of Christ covers our hearts, emotions, and relationships with God and each other. etc.
The piece of armor related to peace has tripped me up each week as I’ve talked to God on my security rounds. The NIV says “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” It’s a complicated little phrase with a lot of words. So, I ignored the shoes part and I prayed for peace. One of the fruit of the Spirit – that peace. A virtue. A characteristic of our lives, our demeanor. I asked God to give us peace that comes from trusting Him with the things that are out of our control.
Today I realized I have been wearing the wrong shoes! I’ve been trying to put on red wedges, trying to feel fashionable, comfortable, confident. But this is a battle, a fight against injustice. Now, I don’t actually wear my wedges for my security rounds. That’s absurd. I wear my toe shoes, naturally. The ones that are comfortable to stand in for 5 hours. The shoes that I could run 26.2 miles in if I needed to (and have!). But here I was week in and week out putting on the wrong shoes in this spiritual battle.
“feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
What is the gospel of peace? Gospel – Good News. Peace – Shalom. The good news that our Creator has been and is now bringing peace. The good news that the Kingdom of God is near, it is at hand. The good news that we can establish God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. The good news that Jesus is coming back to fully establish God’s Kingdom. To bring complete peace – shalom – with creation and God. The good news that in this battle, God wins!
I attended a Central High School volleyball game (go Bobcats!) this week and was watching the form of the players; remembering back to my high school experience playing volleyball. I thought about the “ready position” and how your feet had to be moving, ready to act. When I tried to learn tennis a few years ago I was instructed to show “ready feet” by being on my toes.
In this spiritual battle, our readiness comes from the gospel of peace. In a volleyball game or tennis or even a battle, the motivation for being ready is the unknown and striving to win. Yet in this simple phrase we are told the outcome – God wins. We engage this battle because of the hope we have. As I’ve been telling our Crash Kids for the last few weeks, hope is believing that something good can come even though you can’t see it right now.
In this spiritual battle, our readiness, our willingness to fight, our motivation to fight hard, is the Gospel of peace, hope that God’s Kingdom will be fully established. We can’t see it fully yet but we can be confident in it.
So though we know God wins the battle let there be no casualties of war because of putting on the wrong shoes. No despair. No idols of false hope.
And peace. Well may God grow that fruit of the Spirit abundantly in us but may we know the difference between the Gospel of Peace and the virtue or character of peace in our lives. May our sense of peace grow as we abide in God. May we engage the battle (opposite of peace?!) motivated by hope in the Gospel of Peace. Shalom.