Don’t wear tights to the beach– Reasons why I believe having protected feet is overrated.
Last week I had the joy of going to Spain for a long weekend to reconnect with some of my friends with whom I had done summer staff several years ago. I was so thankful for a refreshing weekend with such wonderful people. One of my friends lives close to Playa de las Catedrales, which if you don’t speak Spanish (I am still barely grasping basic French, so the thought of attempting Spanish this past weekend was laughable), means Cathedral Beach. On this beach, there are beautiful arches that have been carved out by the ocean over the course of thousands of years. It was one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen. To be able to see these arches, you have to time your visit in between the low tides.
We planned our visit for early on Friday morning. Because I was going to Spain, my dream of a tropical beach vacation had one more chance (our past two regional conferences were in Barcelona, and each time I thought I would be greeted with warm tropical weather, each time it rained). I thought possibly if I only packed dresses, I could convince the weather to cooperate with my dreams. I quickly learned that the weather doesn’t care what you packed, it is going to do its own thing. So begrudgingly, I put on tights and we headed to the beach.
I was living the dream, taking pictures of the arches, and getting lost in the incredible power of the ocean and its Creator when I noticed that quite quickly, the tide was coming back. My friends, who are much wiser packers than I am, came prepared and simply took off their shoes. This was not an option for me, because of my tights, which I had not even wanted to wear in the first place, but that is beside the point. Finally, the waves were victorious. I sprinted as quickly as my legs could take me away from the water but I found myself out of room, the wave had backed me up against an arch and the next thing I knew my feet and tights were soaking wet. This is when I learned don’t wear tights to the beach—your feet will get dirty and your tights will be ruined.
Can you tell that I didn’t grow up around water?
I approached being a missionary in France is a lot like wearing tights to the beach. I am in a land that has been formed with years and years of religious tradition. I have yet to see a city in France that doesn’t have a beautiful cathedral in the city’s center. But unlike the arches on this beach, a lot of the water has been dried up. Christianity has taken a sharp decline in France. I showed up to France on the Lords timing, much like we had checked the tide schedule. But I showed up wearing tights to the beach. I was wide eyed and hopeful, not giving a second thought to the fact that I would get dirty.
I have often heard the verse in Romans where Paul paraphrases Isaiah, saying, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News” (Romans 10:15b, ESV). When I stopped to think about it, I realized that in a literal sense, the feet of a messenger were not beautiful. They had been traveling through dirty roads wearing sandals. Their feet were dirty. Feet get dirty when you are doing the work of the Lord.
I had tried to protect my feet when I moved to France, much like I had at the beach. I ran as fast as I could away from the waves, trying to preserve my tights and the outfit that I had so thoughtfully assembled. But even my protected feet could not be spared, my tights were sand stained. I had tried to protect myself when I moved to France. I tried to run away from the things that were hard. I had envisioned what my life would look like as a Young Life International Staff person, and I did all that I could to preserve that picture. But now that I have been here almost five months, I don’t want to protect my feet. Protected feet do not equal beautiful feet. My protected feet got hit with the harsh reality that being a missionary can be really hard. Beautiful are the feet that bring Good News. But I believe, in order to be successful in the bringing of the Good News, your beautiful feet are going to have to get a little dirty. Instead of spending my time running away from the waves, I want to sink my feet into the sand and allow my dirty, sand covered feet to be washed by the water.
I want dirty, beautiful feet, heading in the direction where the Lord is leading.