What would you think if someone entered your church without shoes? Yes, it's summer. Yes, it's hot in Texas. Still many think it unconventional, possibly even rude, to not dress appropriately, thus demonstrating an err of reverence when entering a place of worship to a Holy God. The opposite seems to be true in Scripture and in some cultures, it is rude not to remove shoes that have trodden dirty roads before entering a holy place or someone's home.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:1-5 NIV
When Moses met YHVH, he was commanded to removed his sandals while standing before the burning bush. Likewise, Joshua met the Angel of the LORD and was instructed to remove his sandals.
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13 -15 NIV
Removing your shoes was a sign of respect by a guest to help keep a home [or temple clean], but it also allowed dirty, tired feet to be washed so a guest could be honored by the host. Similar to a gentleman removing his hat for a lady, removing of ones shoes is an outward demonstration of an internal position of honor to another person.
Our feet are our foundation. We rely on them to carry us through each day. Studies indicate that going barefoot allows your feet to move freely and giving foot muscles needed exercise for a strong and sturdy base of support. Walking or running barefoot strengthens the stabilizing muscles of the foot and ankle while improving the unconscious perception of space which helps with balance. Furthermore, when our feet and ankles are strong our posture and muscle alignments improve, which benefits the neuromuscular pathways of the foot and leg. Lastly, walking barefoot allows the pressure points in the feet to be stimulated by the varied surfaces.
Most of the anatomical improvements to your feet from walking or running barefoot will not occur over night, but the improved stimulus of the pressure points , I know are true from the moment I place my shoeless feet on the ground. You see, the person walking into church without shoes that Sunday morning, was me.
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:1,2 NIV
The really cute sandals I chose that morning broke about 30 yards from the church door! At that instant I had several options: go home because I was embarrassed, "what would people think?" or I could enter the doors of my Father's house. I chose the latter. The pebbles from the side walk were a bit uncomfortable, the foyer floor was refreshingly smooth and cool, but the carpet in the sanctuary was wonderfully soft. As I sat at my seat, no one noticed any difference, but I did! As we stood to worship, my toes gripped the cushy carpet, feeling springy. I noticed myself rising and spreading my toes into the thick fabric beneath my feet, enjoying worship as I have never experienced before.
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. You who answer prayer, to you all people will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. Psalm 65:1-4 NIV
At the conclusion of the service, I know several people wondered why I was shoeless, but while I may have entered with trepidation, I walked out of the sanctuary different. It was as if my Abba and I had shared a little secret between us that morning. Everyone else had worn shoes; they did not feel the carpet under their soles. On the other hand, because of the nakedness of my feet, He filled my soul with a special gift that morning.
Holy, King of the Universe, we approach You in awe and with reverence. We place our hearts in a position of humility, with a quiet pause, in preparation to enter Your presence. Although You give us permission to boldly present ourselves before the Holy throne of Heaven, we choose to avoid anything that would resemble arrogance or casual disregard for Your majesty. May our behavior, our walk, the condition of our hearts be in acknowledgment that there is no god like You, our God. May we glorify You with our bodies and worship you with our behavior, entering Your chambers in need of Your protection, salvation, with thanksgiving and praise. You are our wonderful Creator, our loving Savior and our peace-giving Counselor. May all glory be Yours. Amen.