Proverbs 4:25-27 (NIV) Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Though born a girl, I have lacked the natural grace usually inclined to the female gender. One might even have called me a tomboy growing up. I remember my mother telling me once that I had the gait of a football player. Each footfall like that of giant shaking the ground and reverberating through the house. I never noticed. Now as an adult, I no longer enter a room like a raging bull bent on disaster but a bit more cautiously than before. I have relented from the desire to divide and conquer which once was my stance. I am a survivor of many things which has led to careful and constant introspection. Walking halfway through this journey called life has brought sober reflection on my ways, attitudes and actions over the years. Many situations come to mind when I rushed in rather than carefully considering the next step in terms of forever.
When I was in elementary school, I attended gymnastics for a short time. Probably my mother’s attempt to soften my steps and find some gracefulness in the mix. At any rate, my favorite event was the balance beam. At first, it was all about balance with the sixteen foot beam just inches above the ground so that if (or when) I fell, it would not be devastating. With my arms stretched wide, I would keep my eyes fixed on something on the other side of the gym. Each step my foot would feel for the beam, its smooth texture and straight surface guiding me along to the other side. As the lessons continued, I would learn how to do various moves and positions while balanced above the ground about four feet. My feet perched on a beam just four inches across. My whole body followed the direction of my feet. I wish I could say that it made my moves fluent and coherent, but I don’t think it did. I still charge into rooms. I am still a big awkward and clumsy even after all these years.
Let your eyes look straight ahead and fix your gaze directly ahead of you. This mirrors the instructions that I was first given to attempt a quick trip across the balance beam. You are not supposed to keep your eyes down or you will soon head in that direction. I had to learn to trust my feet to do their job. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. We must think about the paths we take each day and remain steadfast in our pursuit of the Lord. Our feet play an important role in this endeavor. We must become aware of how we walk through life and not just where we are going. The way of our walk is more important than our destination. Our destiny is not a place but a person. We must walk like Jesus to make it into eternity. Otherwise, we will only make it to the gate before discovering we missed the mark altogether.
Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV) Stand 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. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Stand firm. How are you holding up? The enemy works daily to cause God’s People to wander from His Perfect Plan and miss out on His Promises. He lies to us. He shoots fiery darts at us. He roars loudly trying to flush us from safety in the midst of uncertainty. In a panic, we forget everything we know about the Lord and run. Adrenaline can make us do some crazy things. Fear produces a call to fight or flight. We are warriors who have an armor that is sound and sword that is strong but if we lack confidence in it – we will not use it but succumb to the enemy’s plight.
Our armor is simple. The belt of Truth secures us at the waist. The Truth is God’s Word. It gives us support in every endeavor. It is the absolute truth and evidence that our faith is solid and hope secure. Each morning, we must make the effort to buckle God’s Word around us to hold us up and keep us in place. We have breastplate of righteousness that protects our heart. Right standing with God is complete and whole in Jesus Christ alone. The only thing that I must do is put it over my heart and refuse to remove it. The enemy wants you to believe that there is more to it than that. He tells God’s People that they must earn their stripes so they forfeit righteousness in search of religion. Our relationship to Jesus is the very thing that keeps right standing with God in place. We are given a shield of faith that we must hold on to. Our hope is in the Lord and we receive it when we maintain a strong grip on faith refusing to let go no matter what the battle. Salvation is the helmet that protects our mind. We must believe that we are saved and live like it. We are given the sword of the spirit to swing death blows to the one who threatens our stand for Christ. Each day He is our helper and will never allow the righteous to fall.
I purposely left out the part that I believe we have overlooked on many occasions. It says, “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” I will be the first to admit as I slowly raise my hand that I have been known to have a warring and zealous spirit just like Paul. Before Saul became Paul, he persecuted Christians because their beliefs compromised his ideas and education concerning God. He didn’t do it out of malice but ignorance. When he met Jesus Christ that day on the road to Damascus, everything changed. His method changed. His motive changed. His movement changed. No longer a murderer. No longer a persecutor. Paul accepted God’s Grace and committed his life to delivering it to every other human being who he came in contact with from that day forward. Are we walking at peace with God today? Are we sharing this peace with other people?
Ephesians 1:18-23 (NIV) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Before taking another step in any direction, we must consider how we travel. What is our impact on others? What footprint do we leave behind? Is it one that others will wish to follow? We are not called to change the world but enlighten others about the Love of Jesus Christ. I have my concerns about Target’s bathroom policy, but it is my personal opinion. I do not care for my choices for the future presidency so I must trust that King Jesus is still in charge. I will not buy or support Sports Illustrated but then again I didn’t buy it in the first place. All these issues and diversions cause people to disagree and argue. Waving flags, marching for causes, disputing our opinions and dividing rather connecting, it is important very important maybe even critical that we discover what we stand for and exactly how Jesus told us to stand before we step up on soapboxes and spew out irrelevant tirades and hurtful words that cut hearts open and leave them bleeding to die.
I have hope. My hope does not lead to disappointment. I must have faith because it is futuristic and cannot completely exist here on earth. For now it is partial and a bit cloudy, I need Jesus to clear it all up. Until then, it serves me well to remember these important truths. My hope is not impoverished but an inheritance far greater than the wealth of the world or influence found on the earth. He calls us to hope which means there is a journey in store. Embarking on the quest for hope, I must put my trust in Jesus. Not this world, my ability or other people – just Jesus. Why? The very same power that raised Jesus from the dead and established His Throne placing all things under His Feet is invested in me when I choose Him as my Savior and decide to live like He is my Lord. Jesus has all rule, authority, dominion and power that He readily hands over to me when I confidently learn to walk in His Peace.
Romans 10:14-15 (NIV) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
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!” (Isaiah 52:7) What is our method? The message of God’s love is shared best when offered in peace and good tidings. After all, it really is good news. Each day as we set out, we choose shoes fit for our activity. I have shoes that I wear to work, workout sneakers for the gym, and slippers for the house. There are fancy shoes for special date nights or when I go to church on Sunday. I choose the appropriate shoe to fit the occasion. When my life is surrendered to Jesus Christ, no matter what the day holds, where I go, what I do, I must always put on peace before I take the first step.
My message is one of hope. It is filled with salvation, healing, deliverance and joy. God is good all the time. His Heart and Mind are set on making good of every detail of my life. He has a good plan with a future and hope designated just for me. He promises overcoming power and inexpressible joy. I win in all things. I have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, slays every giant and answers every question at my disposal, but if I do not become a messenger of peace nothing I say or do matters. The beautiful feet of the messenger will always be shod in peace. People are our mission and the subject of the great commission. Their heart, mind, body, soul and spirit will be drawn to the same love, grace, joy and peace that we found in the Lord but only if we promote it in our stride through life.
Hebrews 12:12-17 (NIV) Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
One might think that walking across a balance beam would be easy. After all, though narrow, it is straight and smooth. But we are complex creatures with a lot to balance in our life, so when put on the straight and narrow it is not always easy to get it all together so practice makes perfect. When on the beam, gymnasts will put their arms out to their side which helps achieve balance. As believers, we must continually evaluate our walk with the Lord to ensure we are not driven by religiosity but are walking in relationship with Jesus. His Message is always loving and grace full. It does not condemn us but gives us the freedom from sin that we long for. We must pray before stepping out always. We must have a right heart and right mind to have a right perspective. Before daring to move in any direction, ask the Lord for His Direction. We must make level the paths for our feet. Our purpose is to see people saved and healed that they may be delivered from bondage and free to develop a lasting relationship with Jesus. We are not the judge and jury though we act that way sometimes.
We are to make every effort to live in peace. How important is peace? It comes before holiness which means until we learn how to live in harmony with all mankind, we will not be holy like the Lord. It doesn’t matter how much we do or how good we speak. Without love for one another that comes before our need to be right, better or more holy than others, we will never establish holiness with the Lord by faith and confident hope will remain elusive until we discover His True Love. We are responsible for every person we come in contact with. We are to keep them from falling from grace. We are their helpers. We are to be hands-on. No bitter roots. No birthrights sold or inheritance forsaken. We are Children of God with many siblings. It is up to us to tell them that the Father is preparing a party for them. He is waiting for them to come home. We cannot be like the prodigal’s brother who refused to celebrate his return. All of heaven celebrated your return. Jesus washed away your sin and applied the same grace that is given to others. We must learn to walk in peace with God and all mankind. This is God’s Mandate for us.
Psalm 18:32-36 (NIV) It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.
Before slipping on, buckling, or tying your shoes today, I challenge you to put peace on your feet. Decide right not that everywhere you go, you will share the Love of God first. Choose to love others without judgment or condemnation. Your place in the Kingdom is secure. Your birthright established. Your inheritance belongs to you. The Love you have been given is limitless. It’s potential powerful but unless we choose to walk peacefully through life trusting the Lord and confident in hope enough to stop arguing, controlling and voicing our opinion but rather meeting people where they are to show them a better way, we will miss the mark every time. We will stumble and we will fall because we lack wisdom and proper training. Those who choose to trust the Lord will be trained to stand solely and securely on the peace that we have with God through Jesus Christ. Stop standing for things that don’t matter but walk in peace! Jesus will show you the way. Even though the beam did not get any broader, through my constant training and practicing I learned how to balance myself and walk all the way across. Isn’t that kind of what life in Jesus is all about? Working out our salvation and enduring to the end. Walk in peace today, friend. Go in Peace!
Psalm 37:31 (NIV) The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.