"Shoes of Peace." What Are They, and How Do We Wear Them?
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"Shoes of Peace." What Are They, and How Do We Wear Them?
As this new year turned over, I began trying to think of a word that would be "my word" to hold onto for the year. Typically this shouldn't be too hard to come up with a word, but as January 1st passed, and then the second, and then the 10th, I still didn't have a good, single word.
However, there is a phrase that has been both convicting me and inspiring me for the past few months, and it is also a phrase that I want to hold on to this year and implement daily this year so that it becomes not just a phrase in my head, nor just a note in a notebook. I want this phrase to be something to hold onto and to anchor me this year and future years as well.
The phrase is "shoes of peace."
The phrase is inspired from the description of the Armor of God in the book of Ephesians 6:14-16:
firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your
feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."
“Shoes of Peace.” Don't those shoes sound like comfortable and restful footwear? If I were to go shopping today at Macy's or DSW looking for shoes of peace, I would expect to find some shoes that look like these below (actually I googled "buy peaceful shoes" and these came up as possible examples.)
Those shoes would certainly be comfortable and peaceful on the feet! I actually have worn shoes similar to these. I can confirm that these are very comfortable with their inside orthopedic cushioning. It's like walking on a peaceful cloud.
However, I think we all know that Paul wasn't talking about these types of modern day, comfortable, orthopedic shoes. What we may not all know is that the picture below represents what Paul was referring to as the “shoes of peace:”
That picture is of a shoe that is in the Roman Army Museum in the UK. It is a replica of a Roman soldier's shoes from over 2000 years ago. The photo is shown from this particular angle so you can see one of the most important features of these ancient army shoes. Look at those hobnail spikes on the bottom of this "shoe of peace!"
Those hobnail spikes help us understand Paul's metaphor for these shoes. Let's look again how Paul describes the purpose of the footwear, in context with the full sentence it is found in Ephesians. Paul writes, “Stand firm then....with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
Obviously, then, these peace shoes are not a comfortable, relaxing, walking upon a cloud type of shoes. These peace shoes are battle shoes. They are fighting shoes – with short spikes on the bottom. Those short spikes helped the soldier stand firm upon the dirt ground in battle. However, when we face our battles, we have been instructed to be firmly planted in the gospel of God's peace.
When we wear this battle-ready footwear, we are choosing to stand firmly in the good news of God's peace. Those spikes are on the bottom because we are to stand firmly in the ground of the peace that comes only from knowing and walking with God. By standing firmly in God's peace we are able to successfully battle with all of the following:
the disruptions and the chaos of life;
the unexpected events that blindside us;
the surprise and unwanted encounters that should have never happened;
and the turbulence of society which affects us in ways we have no control over.
Priscilla Shirer, in her Bible Study The Armor of God says that without the shoes of peace, “turbulence leads us into misguided battles.” She also writes in lesson 4 of the book: “Mark it down. Whenever you feel an overriding sense of unrest inside or overwhelming distress...the enemy is somewhere in the middle, stirring it up. Anywhere peace is lacking, you can be sure he's at work.”
She goes on to explain the following: “Shalom, the familiar Hebrew word for peace which permeates the Old Testament, does not refer to the absence of chaos, but rather to an overall, deeply entrenched sense of harmony, health, and wholeness in the midst of chaos. In fact, true peace is best detected and measured against the backdrop of commotion and confusion—when instability abounds, yet you remain steadfast; when disappointment and confusion are near, yet you’re still capable of walking with Spirit-infused confidence, stability, and steadiness. [Priscilla Shirer (2015). Lesson Four. The Armor of God - Bible Study.]
Yes, that is what I want to intentionally experience this year and beyond.
This year the phrase for me will be “Shoes of Peace.”
I know this year will likely bring surprises and unwanted circumstances and turbulence at some point. The year has already brought some unexpected and unwanted turns, actually, and we haven't even fully closed out the month of January.
I don't want to fight against such circumstances with a spirit of anxiety, or fear, or anger - or with a sense that I can somehow respond in a way to somehow control the outcome.This year, I'm wearing these spiked-bound Shoes of Peace, and I will remember that no matter what comes my way, I will keep my feet grounded in the knowledge of God's promises and in His peace.
And of course, the best news of all is that these “Shoes of Peace” are available to anyone and everyone who places their trust in God. So we don't have to go shopping for our orthopedic-comfortable peace shoes. God has a pair for each of us who put our trust in Him through Jesus.
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