• Clarice Aeby

When it’s time to take off your sandals


Photo: BoutiqueBreizh from Pixabay

I remember the first time I visited my future husband’s family. We took our shoes off at the front door. I suppose this isn’t unique in many American families, especially those with light-colored carpets, but this was a requirement based on the mother of the home. She was from Japan, where floors were used for both sleeping and places to sit and eat when she was growing up. Keeping them clean was not just thoughtful. It was an absolute rule.

I recently read the retold story in Acts 7 of Moses and his own shoe-removal experience.

“… in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went to take a closer look, the voice of the Lord called out to him, ‘I am the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’

Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals for you are standing on holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.”

God told Moses to take off his sandals. The dirt under his feet was holy.

Holy dirt? Yes, holy.

When the Lord appears, the ordinary becomes sacred. God let Moses know right there and then that He knew exactly what was going on. He heard the groans and had come to rescue. That makes for holy ground. The place we see God.

But why the shoe removal? I’ve always been intrigued, even though I experienced it once myself – this nudge from the Lord to take off my shoes. What a memory!

I’ll never forget the place. It was where I would begin learning to recognize God’s voice. But still. Holy ground = shoe removal? What is the connection?

I did a little research today and read this paragraph from an article by Robbi Evan.

“ We are spiritual as well as physical beings: In this example, shoes represent Moses’ physical being. They cover a part of his body. They tread on the physical world. They gather physical elements. By asking Moses to take them off, God is directing the conversation.

God is asking Moses to enter into a different realm. God is speaking to Moses’s spirit, his heart and his mind, his soul and his body. Why would God need to do so? Because Moses is about to make a monumental decision. He will change his life and invest it into leading the Jewish people. He has to be fully committed. God needs the assent of soul and body.”

I look back at the Bible text and remember that Moses was a runner. He murdered then ran – fast and long as a foreigner in Midian. God knew this, as He knows everything about us.

Moses ran when faced with truth. But there was no running this time. He sees a burning bush and at first was curious, even moving closer. Then God spoke and Moses “shook with terror and did not dare to look.”

And in that context of closed-eye fear, God spoke the words, “Take off your sandals.”

Can you relate? Relate to both the fear of holy truth spoken to your heart and the necessity of doing something physical – like taking off your sandals? That’s why my regular times with the Lord always include journaling. It’s my sandal-removal equivalent.

What was once grabbing paper and pen has evolved into opening a blank page on my computer. It’s where I sit and listen. And when I hear, I, too, am on holy ground. God often reveals my past, letting me know He knows, and then speaks into my today and tomorrow.

These regular moments of stillness are the “sandal removals” of my life. Admittedly, not as bright or as frightening as the burning bush, but still ... holy.

And I pray, “Oh, Lord, may I never underestimate the significance of hearing Your Whisper.”

Pull Up a Chair: Sitting Still

Photo: analogicus from Pixabay

What practice or posture do you take when you come before the Lord? How do you prepare your physical body for a possible encounter with the Lord who speaks to your spirit

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