Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting your toes stepped on

Today’s Reading: Acts 13:15 NIV

15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them [Paul and Barnabas], saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”

Good morning!

“Pastor, you stepped on my toes this morning!” I can still hear his words ringing as clear as the bell that called the community to worship every Sunday morning at College Mound. My husband Jeff was a young seminarian, eager to spread Christ's Gospel in the pastoral appointment he was assigned during seminary. One of our seasoned parishioners, a retired farmer, always came to church sporting blue jean coveralls and light brown cowboy boots, even before “come as you are” was considered a socially acceptable practice! Praise the Lord, because He does not base our worth upon the clothes we choose to wear into worship; God cares far more about the clothing of our eternal souls. Our friend invariably would say the same exact thing to Jeff as he left worship each week. We knew what his response would be before he reached the front door. Jeff would shake his hand, as our friend stood, grinning from ear to ear. He would look down at the ground and pick up his right foot, displaying a worn hole in the soul of his boot. After his weekly proclamation, he would gather with the rest of the congregation underneath the large shade trees by the gravel parking lot, kicking acorns and continuing a holy conversation. Have you ever heard a message delivered in church that seemed to tromp all over your toes? Did it feel like your feet were literally on fire when His Word shook you to your knees?

People are looking for a word of encouragement more than ever, today. One has to look no further than the morning news to get a taste of the suffering happening everywhere. Hope is a human necessity and without it, people wither and die. Where do you go to find a dose of daily hope? Are you willing to open your heart and receive Christ's word of encouragement today?

I confess that God has to regularly step on my toes and set my feet ablaze before I am moved to respond. It takes a pointed message that grabs me by the heart, before I feel a holy call to arms. It is not the pat on the back I had expected to receive when I entered into the sanctuary, but His message is the only message I desperately need to hear. We will miss the point entirely if we’re too busy kicking acorns under the tree, pointing forked fingers at the messenger, while wasting precious time not responding to Christ’s call.

When the Apostle Paul stood to up to speak in the synagogue that day, he knew that the Word he came to share would ruffle feathers, cause dissent, and make folks angry. There was no doubt that someone was going to get their toes stepped on. Paul’s fervent prayer was that God’s Word would not be compromised because of fear of hurting the feelings of those sitting around him. He was willing to risk human rejection and accept the verbal and physical retribution from a hostile crowd, if it meant that someone’s feet would catch the fire of the spirit and carry the Gospel message into their community. Are you willing to risk stepping on someone’s toes, to tell others about Jesus?

Open your heart to the Word of the Lord this morning, and be grateful for all of His messengers, who must sometimes step on our toes, so that we might hear and respond to Christ’s call.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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