When our oldest was about three or four, she had a favorite tune she liked to sing. We all recognized the tune, but the words she sang made no sense. We could not figure out what she meant by “hap-py shoes, hap-py shoes”.
Why were her shoes happy? Were they going to the park?
It turned out that she had misunderstood the words of an old children’s song that I sang to her. It goes, “Have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry.” Since patience was a big word for someone her size, she equated it to something she knew…shoes. Happy shoes, at that.
Honestly, I feel that way about our next piece of armor. I have struggled to grasp what is meant by the “gospel of peace”, and so I have filled in my imagination with some strange meanings.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.Ephesians 6:14-15 ESV
Huh? Maybe I am the only one who struggles with this, but just in case, let’s break it down like we broke down “Have Patience” for our little girl.
Shoes make us ready.
When our oldest was curious, into-everything toddler, I started following the advice of the Fly Lady, an online personality who walks you through baby-steps and habits as you keep your home clean and organized. One of her baby-steps was to “Get dressed to the shoes.” She explains…
“With shoes on those feet of yours, your mind says “OK, it’s time to go to work.” You have no excuse for not taking the trash out or putting that box of give-away stuff into the car. You are literally ready for anything. Believe me, when you get that call from school that your child needs you or that dear friend calls up and says that she needs to talk, “Can we have lunch?” you are ready! Including shoes.”
Having our spiritual shoes on means that we are ready for life. We are walking in the Holy Spirit, who makes us aware of subtle shifts in the spiritual atmosphere. He prompts us to alter our plans and to speak unlikely words in impromptu situations. It is this same Holy Spirit who nudges us to put bedtime plans on hold when a child wants to talk or to offer that needy woman a ride to safety. These spiritual shoes keep us ready for the action that the Holy Spirit shows us.
Gospel is good news.
I always thought that “gospel” specifically meant the plan of salvation, but this summer, I learned about it’s original use. I do not remember which podcast I was listening to, but the guest speaker talked about “gospel” as the term used to describe good news about a king or kingdom in Roman times. If something significant happened with Caesar, a messenger travelled from town to town proclaiming this good news. So when the disciples began to use this word, the people automatically associated it with a kingdom…only the disciples were speaking of a heavenly kingdom with a divine King.
To put the next piece into this word-puzzle, our spiritual footwear is good news about God’s Kingdom. It enables our mobility and helps us keep our footing in precarious situations. News of the Kingdom helps us navigate spiritual warfare without slipping and falling. They enable both offense and defense. In a world of bad news (hurricanes, riots, protests), we have Good News to counter all the negativity. We can offer hope.
Peace is the stabilizer.
Our shoes prepare us for rough terrain. Here in Alaska, we know the importance of proper shoes. Wet, rainy days require XtraTuffs. Subzero temperatures require warm snow boots. Our rugged mountains require sturdy hiking boots. Spiritual warfare requires the peace that comes from the Gospel.
When the enemy sends his forces against us, we need peace like a fish needs water. My husband’s bout with brain surgery sucked all stability from our lives. The thought of a future without my husband felt like a heavy weight on my chest, crushing the air from my lungs. God’s peace allowed me to breathe, put one foot in front of the other, and accomplish the day’s tasks. I alternated between numb functionality and desperate fear, but God enabled me to make doctor’s appointments, feed the kids, and keep our home running. I framed the following verse and put it in our living room for a constant reminder.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
When Jesus’ paid for our sins, He gave us access to this supernatural, unexplainable peace. Although the forces of Satan may rise against us, we can stand firm with the knowledge that our Father is in control. His heavenly forces fight for us. We just stand and pray…in shoes that won’t slip.
This is the good news of peace.