Joshua 5:14…And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and he said to him, ‘What do you command your servant, my lord?’ 15The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.
Pause. First question the Spirit brings to me, Is the place holy because the Lord God is there present? Or is it holy because it was the promised land?
Push play. With a couplet from today’s psalm meandering about my head and heart, I am moved to wonder about the sandals. Is it possible the sandals are like a barrier, as a “city under siege” is a barrier to seeing or being seen by the Lord God? Sandals are human-made constructions to make life easier. But like walls around a city, another human-made construction, do the sandals stand between Joshua and the Lord, God? Does removing them help Joshua know God’s presence through every cell of his being?
I have felt more than distance from the Lord of late, ‘driven from his sight’ as David recalls feeling ‘beset as a city under siege.’ Unconnected is the best I can describe it – disconnected? – not feeling God’s animating Spirit in my head and heart, not knowing through every fiber of my being that I am on holy ground.
A new season began for me in June. I found myself on a new path without any expectation, let alone any idea, where it might lead or land. A part of me envisioned the new path as leading to greener pastures. But, I have been walking this path with sandals on, encountering road blocks and barriers and unable to sense the holy ground and get any sure footing.
I have looked to the Lord, God, for direction – to follow where He would lead me. I seek His guiding hand in His Word, at Worship, in prayer, in theological reflection with others. But since stepping onto it, I have experienced more of benign disappointment and depression than anything that animates, enthuses, energizes me to walk the walk, move forward to greener pastures.
I am so conflicted internally it’s as if the Word doesn’t know where to land. I read it, pray it, think about it, breathe it in – but like a city under siege the words just wander aimlessly inside, not sticking anywhere, not connecting to the fibers of my head and heart, my being and certainly not convicting or animating day to day life.
And then, it all changes up, today. I hear the Word in a whisper. The Lord, God says to me this day – take off your sandals. Hmm.
No matter how this passage has been preached or what I’ve learned about sandals, and holy ground, and all the interesting contextual, particular meanings mined out of the Lord’s instruction to Joshua here and to Moses first (Exodus 3), what the Spirit brought to me on this day was the realization that I have erected some barriers to entry. That I have been – am always – on Holy Ground – that the Lord God is always there, present to me – that I am not a city under siege, unseen by the Lord, and that any distance I am experiencing from Him is of my own doing.
It’s enough of a wake-up call to animate my reflecting here, today. But not enough, yet, to know what barriers – what sandals – I have to remove.
Where am I to go? Am I on the right path? What is standing in my way forward to the greener pastures? Am I where the Lord, God, sees me? Where I see Him?
I wasn’t able to move into the other readings, today, paused at the whisper to face the truth that I am in my own way. I have been walking the walk with sandals on and try as I might to remove, I haven’t.
That is the Word that landed today. Took hold. Found a place in my head and heart. It’s a hard one to accept.
But I do. I hear you, Lord.
Lectionary Readings: AM Psalm 31; PM Psalm 35
Joshua 4:19-5:1,10-15; Rom. 12:9-21; Matt. 26:17-25