God called to Moses out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” Moses said, “Here I am.” God said, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing on holy ground.” – Exodus 3:3-5 (NRSV)
One fall evening in Maine, when I was ten years old, I ran away from home. I didn’t make it past the front yard because I was so mad I forgot to put on shoes. I hid there while my parents considered their tyranny and I contemplated the importance of footwear.
Without shoes we are limited, humbled, don’t get very far. Hebrew covenants often involved removing shoes to demonstrate humility, surrender and trust.
Barefoot before the flaming shrub, Moses couldn’t easily escape. It was a good call by God since Moses had already run away from Egypt. Barefoot, Moses had to stay put on that holy ground and listen.
It isn’t easy to be on holy ground. We instinctively know that holiness not only brings us face-to-face with God, it also brings us face-to-face with ourselves.
When night came, that ten-year-old kid sheepishly went back inside to face his parents. My feet were cold and I was hungry. Mom was sitting at the kitchen table beside the warm woodstove where I had left my shoes.
“Welcome home,” Mom said. Then, without another word, she got up and made me a sandwich.
God, I’m so tired of running. Help me to be still and listen for your word of grace.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.