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
There is a small reef in the place where I spent a lot of my childhood south of Manila. My siblings and I used to either swim or walk to it, and explore the nooks and crannies for strange creatures. I found it was easier to walk barefoot through the rocks, so that I could feel them better, and prevent slipping. This was learned from years of experience slipping into the water and getting hurt during our adventures.
Last Saturday, as I visited a remote church plant area, I was expecting to walk over a makeshift bridge of dry rocks (and some bamboo) with my trusty less-slip sandals. But it had rained, and the bridge was now partly overflown with water. I decided to take my shoes off, especially since some of the rocks were covered in slippery moss.
I was praying that I wouldn’t fall into the river, while moving very slowly, checking every step. I didn’t fall, but my foot gripped a wobbly stone so hard that I bruised the sole of my foot. I don’t know about you, but that has never happened to me before.
It got me thinking about this verse, and how upside-down this Christian life can be. “Beautiful feet” in print or TV ads are flawless, without cracking dry skin, callouses (and bruises). But if our feet become more beautiful as we bring the good news to people who are unreached, it means they become more beautiful with more wear and tear. The most beautiful feet are the ones that have traveled the farthest, through the roughest roads, for the sake of the gospel.
Yet oh, how I love my comforts, my “softening things,” as Amy Carmichael once wrote.
I would shy away from these rough places but by the grace of God. Those hard places are where some of the Lord’s beloveds dwell. Since it is the Lord’s love that compels us to follow Him, we follow Him to those hard places. We are beggars showing our own kind the way to true treasure. I haven’t even scratched the surface of “hard” in my life,
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
—Amy Wilson Carmichael