So my Bible Study group is halfway through Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God series, and this week the lesson is all about the shoes of peace.
I can’t recap the whole teaching, but the nutshell version is that we cannot survive the storms of life unless we have God’s peace. Peace is what secures our footing. It provides stability. It allows us to to both stand firm and to move forward when everything around us seems like a chaotic mess.
Which is why, I guess, the Apostle Paul chose to focus on shoes as the piece of Roman armor that correlates to peace. And listening to Priscilla describe the sandals that the soldiers wore (lots of laces for ankle support, cutaways to provide ventilation and allow for movement, and thick leather soles with hobnails sticking out the bottom to allow a soldier to “dig in”), I couldn’t help but think that Paul could have picked a better word in Ephesians 6:15. Shoes are nice, but what we really need in life is a good pair of cleats.
Because life (and buckle up, because here comes a Deep Thought) is a whole lot like lacrosse.
Robbie plays for Sewanee: The University of the South. As an attackman, his job is to put the ball in the goal. The opponent’s job is to stop him, using what looks (to a mother, anyway) like anything short of murder. Robbie plays with a short stick; his defender has a long one, and even with all of the padding that some NCAA person decided the guys needed to wear, my boy comes out of every single game with slash marks, bruises, and even (on more than one occasion) the entire imprint of some other guy’s lacrosse head (strings and all) embedded into his body, like a 3-D tattoo.
Sometimes, it’s not just the defenders who make life hard. Sometimes it’s the environment. When Robbie was growing up, we watched games where it was 118 degrees on the turf and the refs had to stop the game every ten minutes so that the players could hydrate. We also saw contests in the sleet and snow, where the field turned into a slippery, icy mess. And, now that Robbie is at Sewanee (which is on the top of a mountain), there are some games we have not watched at all, simply because there was nothing to see. Here’s the snap Annesley took on the sidelines last weekend:
I’d go on, but you get the idea. Life is hard, and we all take hits. Sometimes we find ourselves on slippery ground, or searching to find our way in the fog. Paul wasn’t kidding when he said that in order to stand firm and be ready to move, we’d need the right footwear.
So how do we get that? How do we strap on our own shoes of peace?
I wish I had pages and pages so that I could rip off everything that Priscilla Shirer had to say. Her study is seriously fabulous, and if you want to get the whole thing, click here. In the meantime, though, I’ll leave you with my favorite takeaway:
Trust fuels thanksgiving. Thanksgiving activates peace.
If you want a life that is marked by peace – the kind that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard you get hit, how slippery the ground is, or how foggy the future looks – start with trust. Isaiah 26:3 promises “perfect peace” when you trust God and keep your thoughts fixed on him. You can shore up that trust (supporting your ankles and digging your spikes into the ground) by taking hold of some Bible verses and letting their truth soak into your heart and mind until they become an anchor, firm and secure. (If that’s new territory and you aren’t sure where to start, post a comment on this blog to let me know what your need or concern is and I’ll message you back with a few of my favorite Scripture promises.)
Trust fuels thanksgiving. And thanksgiving, when wrapped around the concerns and requests in your life, activates peace. Check out the progression in Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So here’s the action plan, as best as I can tell: Trust God. Cover your concerns with thanksgiving. And get yourself a good pair of peace cleats so you can stand your ground and be ready to go, no matter what life throws your way.