“Go! …Do not take… sandals.” – Luke 10:3-4
Why wear shoes? I love to go barefoot. I love sand between my toes. But going shoeless is not just for the pleasures of the beach. We wear shoes to protect our feet. But biblical characters would remove their shoes to demonstrate their willingness to give up their rights to gain a greater level of intimacy with God.
David wept when his son led a rebellion to take over the kingdom of Israel. He walked away with his “head was covered, and he went barefoot.” (2 Sam. 15:30) Because of David’s guilt for adultery and murder, he was denying himself the right to fight for the kingdom. Because he gave up his rights, God promised David a kingdom that would never end.
Each of us has rights as citizens of our nation. We have a right to food, water, clothing, our family, and homeland. But when we hold too tightly to our rights, we often do so at the expense of our relationship with God and others. Think about it. Can you enjoy intimate relationships with anyone without giving up rights?
God gave us mothers as a perfect example. They deny their rights when they carry us in their bodies for nine months, suffer labor, and bleed. Then, when we are born, they wake all hours to tend to our needs as helpless babies who can do nothing in return but smile and poop!
Denying rights is about winning and losing, but not the way you think. We may try to win by holding tightly to our rights, but then we lose real relationships. If we refuse to let go of our rights to comforts, privacy, time, money, and even offering our opinion, we will likely not enjoy being around people, including family, neighbors, and strangers seeking friendships.
Moses was told to take his shoes off when he met God at the burning bush (Exo. 3:1-10). His feet were unprotected. He became vulnerable. He was told he stood on holy ground. It was a moment of intimate connection with a holy God. Moses came close enough to hear God speak of his breaking heart over the suffering children of Israel. So going barefoot is a sign of a person who has given up their rights to become an intimate friend of God.
And yes, even Jesus went barefoot. He gave up his rights more than any other.
Jesus gave up the glories of heaven for less than a foxhole. And the Father loved Jesus because he laid down his life for others (John 10:17). Jesus came to show us the Father. When we give up our rights, we help others to know God too. Let’s go barefoot.