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Soles and Souls

During my college years, I worked at a local women’s shoe store. It was usually a pleasant experience and a true education. When the manager said that I would be working “straight commission,” it almost sounded fun. Wrong! “Straight commission” means that you can work all day, sell nothing, and receive no pay. After a few days of that nonsense, I realized that I had to get serious if I wanted to eat!

No more Mr. Nice Guy. When a customer came in, I was all business with personality. In my early days, I would drag out fifteen different pairs of shoes for consideration. But that just usually confused the customer. It was much smarter to ask a few key questions before bringing out several choices. A good sale was when the customer decided on a purchase by the time they tried on the second or, at most, a third pair of shoes.

Some ladies worked in the garden or mowed the grass before they came shoe shopping. Whew, that was a challenge, until I found “Sweet Feet” foot spray. A few squirts of that product and their feet felt cool and the environment cleared up, too. Everybody was happy.

Did you know that shoes are in the Bible? It’s true. Most people in the Scriptures wore some type of shoe, and the sandal was the most common. In fact, there are several interesting formal ceremonies in the Bible that incorporated shoes:

> In Deuteronomy 25:9, we read that when a husband died without children, the brother of the deceased must marry his widow. The ensuing transaction was concluded with the ritual of the widow untying the sandal of her new husband and removing it from his foot.

> In Ruth 4:7, when Boaz took Ruth as his wife, Ruth removed the sandal from his foot as a sign of submission and commitment. This was a civil observance, and a public transfer of relationship.

> In Amos 2:6, the old prophet reminds us of the sin that the brothers of Joseph committed when they sold the “dreamer” for silver (Genesis 37). But Amos also mentions the trading of sandals between the guilty parties as a sign of completion of a wicked deed.

But one of the most sacred stories is found in Exodus 3, when Moses approaches the burning bush on Mount Horeb (Sinai). God speaks to him and says, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” It was not the location of the bush, or the miracle of the bush burning that made that ground holy. It was the Presence of God that caused this isolated, unremarkable patch of desert to be hallowed.

When you respond to the call of God to come close, you enter into a new dimension of spiritual relationship. James 4:8 ESV – “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Nothing compares to this relationship. You can be in an ornate cathedral or on the backside of a lonely desert. But, when you enter the Presence of God, be like Moses, and humble yourself before your Creator in awe and reverence.

The Bible teaches that God can meet you at any location when you choose to come close to Him. Joshua was in a critical battle at Jericho. But suddenly, Joshua stepped into the Presence of the Son of God, and he was told to, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." (Joshua 5:15 NIV) Why was he asked to remove his sandals? Because the proper response in the Presence of God is to show your humility, willingness to serve, and detachment from worldly possessions.

You can worship God with your shoes on. But, you cannot come into God’s Presence without deep reverence and holy respect for who He is. Warning: Never be casual or disrespectful in the Presence of God. “Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV)

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