“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Is 52:7)
Based on this verse I used to tell friends that my feet were supremely beautiful. Sadly, they are entirely average.
However, Paul seems to have had this passage in mind when he encourages us to: “Stand firm…putting on your feet the readiness of the good news of peace…” (Eph 6:15). [At least I think it’s supposed to read something like that; translators seem unable to agree on exactly how to render Paul’s words, and commentators agree even less on how we are meant to understand them.]
Keep in mind that Paul is urging us as disciples to mature in areas of character that will enable us to withstand the assaults of the enemy. So for me the key word here is ‘readiness’. Whatever other meanings may lie behind these words, I tentatively offer this as wisdom:
“My readiness to move impacts my ability to stand.”
If I strive to be quick to respond to the Spirit’s promptings, attentive to his whispers and eager to follow his subtle directions, then that pattern-of-obedience will serve to protect me, minimizing vulnerabilities that the enemy seeks to exploit.
But I need to train myself to develop this habit in the small things:
That barely registered sense that I should pray for this person, or take a moment to message that friend.
That nudge to take a detour on the way home, or to pause to take note of what is happening around me.
That almost imperceptible ‘check’ that makes me hesitate before sending the email, or causes me to hold my tongue in that conversation.
The little things that may be nothing more than my normal judgement and my human imagination. And only the Master will ever know one way or the other.
And yet my readiness to follow such prompting, to step out (or step back), to speak up (or shut up), in response to this ‘still-small-voice’, that is something the Master values highly. And the enemy detests deeply.
Because when I grow sluggish, half-hearted and careless in my response, then I become vulnerable.
For most of his life King David embodied an exceptional eagerness to follow the Spirit’s impulses, whether in passionate dancing or obsessive restraint! Except – tragically – once. On that occasion David chose to stay at home, passive and inactive, at the time ‘when kings go out to war’. It ended horribly, and the man who could stand up to giants failed to withstand temptation.
Jesus concluded one of his stories with the words: “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready… (Lk12:38)
Master, help me to develop and maintain an eager readiness, with feet that – beautiful or otherwise – are always prepared, constantly alert and quick to step forward.