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Remove Those Sandals

The whole burning bush incident has always interested me. Moses there beyond the wilderness, his attention drawn aside by this shrub in flames, who goes to investigate only to hear the voice of God.  And what does God say but, “Come no closer! Remove those sandals, you’re standing on Holy ground.” And there Moses is, standing before God, barefooted.

Yesterday’s Upper Room author, a pastor from Tennessee, gets credit for inspiring what I am thinking next. The title of his meditation: Sheep Don’t Wear Shoes. Now, true to my nature, I didn’t completely agree with what he wrote (…that sheep don’t have to remove their shoes, their feet are naked before God already, so to speak, and so they draw close). I’m not sure our footwear creates such an insurmountable barrier, but leave it to God to show me something about my sandals. I change out of them into the cleats I wear to work. When I do I am standing on Holy ground.

I am a fitness coach who works with young athletes – mostly on the soccer field. In these summer and early fall days it is warm, so I drive to my worksite wearing my sandals. But when I arrive, I take them off to change into my cleats. I usually offer a whispered prayer of my hopes for a good session or for God to be glorified in my teaching. Or I just give it all to Him in thanks that I can be there at all. (A year and a half ago I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be.) All these prayers seem hollow, constructed by me. Perhaps because they’re in my head and heart, not in my hands and feet.

But yesterday, I made my change from sandals to cleats my prayer. As I removed my sandals, I stood for a moment on the asphalt of the parking lot and thought, “this is Holy ground.” It is a place where I have turned aside to offer what God has planted in me. (I was not any more certain of what was to happen next. I am imagining Moses and I may be kindred spirits here.) Then I laced up my cleats with careful intention. I was putting on the foot-armor of God.

The sessions were fun and I believe fruitful. But as our time ran short, dark, blue-gray storm clouds gathered overhead. The girls didn’t notice, but I kept watch. And as we completed our final activity I spotted a flash in the distance. “That’s it. We’re done. There’s lightning.”

The parents and kids scurried to gather their balls and water and take off their pinnies. We thanked and bid each other quick ‘see ya next weeks.’  I looked at my watch. It was exactly, 7:00. Closing time for the session. By 7:03 all the kids were safely in their cars and on their way home. So was I. That is the beauty and majesty of treading lightly and intentionally on holy ground, it bids us come and then sends us safely along the way home.

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