We live in South Africa and to the shock and horror of some of my European friends (Matthew and Ruth- name and shame), our children spend most of their days without their shoes. My own little one’s soiled Crocs (a light rubber /plastic type of sandal) bear a daily testimony to the dizzying routine of “sandpit>jungle gym>bike-ride>sweat>repeat”.
Every night before his bath I have to lift him out of his shoes and straight into the water, because his little feet are so blackened with fun that my white bath mat would weep. At times when I put him down for his afternoon nap, I forget about the filthy little feet only to realise it too late when his duvet is covered in muddy streaks.
A few nights ago, I washed his Crocs, cut his little toenails and scrubbed those little feet, marked by old thorns and falls and scrapes. The next day when I put him down for his nap, I took his shoes off and he immediately began to whimper: “Wait! My feet are dirty, I have to wash them first!” But his face when he saw his beautiful pink feet, perfectly clean, was a sight to behold. He was both elated and…. relieved.
There are things I have done and said in my life that I am not proud of and I am quite the expert at dwelling on them. I often talk or write about those things. It may even seem humble. Shame and condemnation are my daily ration. They are always there to put me in my place if I even dare to dream of living in the potential God put in me when He created me in His image. In HIS image. No mistakes.
And I see it around me too. I see it in the eyes of a young woman whose only sense of worth lies in achieving academically. I see it in the way a friend always second-guesses herself, apologising for every little uncontrollable detail and I see it in the eyes of a five-year-old girl whose mother left her and her brother and her father for the drug life.
But I feel a shift in my spirit. It started as a small voice but it is growing into a roar. The roar of the Lion of Judah coming to claim his daughter. You see I have spent years recoiling at my own “dirty feet” being reminded by myself or satan that I am not perfect. That I don’t dare enter the rest that God has for me just in case anyone thinks that I don’t know that I am not perfect. Yet here is the thing: I am not ME. In His beautiful eyes I am not what I say or what I do or what I don’t do. I am NEW.
Corinthians 5:17-19 (The Message Bible) (Emphasis my own)
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.
My old life- gone and replaced by my New Life. Does this mean that when I sin I ignore it or pretend it’s nothing? No, not at all. Do I continue sinning without a care because I am “under grace”? Absolutely no! But because I have accepted what Jesus did for me on the cross, I ask for forgiveness and I am grateful for the grace of that forgiveness He gives without hesitation. I am so grateful that I cannot help but want to repent immediately of anything that could hurt our relationship. And I say: “I have sinned, but I am no longer a sinner. I was supposed to die because of my sin, but now I can live.”
God wants us to walk in the identity that He placed inside of us. It is not called being “born-again” for nothing. When we don’t, when we keep focused on our “dirty feet” even though they have been washed whiter than snow, we grieve God. I grieve God. It’s like receiving the most wonderful gift and then throwing it back in the Giver’s face. There is nothing humble about that. And I am not that person anymore. My feet are clean.
So…for myself, but also for my children over whose shoulders I sometimes see draped the same dark cloak of self-rejection…
I know I’ll see you around. And there’ll be times when you try to move back. But as from now, your room has been taken. You’re outside my head – and when you try to get in, Someone else will answer. They’ll tell you, “I’ve seen you before, remember? I nailed you to the cross. I defeated you – and you have no place here with my child.”