Body and Soul Armor, Piece Three.
A wise general looks after his soldiers' boots. If they give out, nothing else is of much use.1
Coach John Wooden thought the same thing. The first day of basketball practice, the steadfast UCLA basketball legend made all his players take off their shoes and socks; then he instructed them in the proper way to put them on—making sure there were no creases in the socks, (would cause blisters). Then he taught them to pull the laces evenly through the eyelets, and finally, to tie a double knot, so shoes would not come untied in a game, creating a disadvantage for his player.2
When the Roman soldier put on his armor, he did it in a precise order - first the belt, then the breastplate, next the shoes. The Roman’s footwear would allow him to march across hundreds of miles of the Empire in some degree of comfort. Twas a heavy duty-sandal called the Caliga, which had extra layers of leather attached to the uppers with hobnails (studs) to create a stable, thick, hardwearing sole. The multiple layers of leather made a sole that was half an inch thick, good for protecting the foot when walking on rough ground. The heads of the iron hobnails improved traction and also provided a hard surface, further reducing wear.3
Shoes … so important. Foundational. Important part of the Roman soldier’s armor, and of the Christian’s defense against evil. Paul ties them to the gospel of peace. Look:
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God . . .so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.” from Ephesians 6
Today, we still choose our shoes based on what our day will hold--and with what our feet will have to contend.
For the Roman soldier, it was all about function as well,
-so that nothing would pierce the sole of his shoes, and hinder his ability to fight; -so that the bottoms provided a sturdy base upon which he could hold his position.
Whatever could Paul have meant by ‘feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace’? We remember that in this passage, Paul was not talking about taking the gospel message out, sharing Christ with others—rather he was preparing believers to stand when assailed by evil. Therefore, he is talking about the strength of knowing and experiencing the strength of the gospel of peace … the peace of God that we can only know through Jesus. How I would have loved to have been there with the disciples, when Jesus looked into their faces and eyes, ‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, give I to you; do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid.’4
Honestly, the peace of God is not really something that can be adequately described to another person. The settling, purpose-filled peace that comes into the life of a follower of Jesus can only be experienced … simply, there is nothing like it in all ‘the world. It is a defense against evil because God’s peace gives us strength; it provides stability and confidence, and it cannot be taken away. From this divine peace, we are called to maintain peace with others as well. ‘So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.’5
The other day my husband and I were on our way home from the gym and he commented, 'hey you know I just read this article about the safest cities in America--Raleigh (our neighboring large city) ranked number eight.' News like that is somewhat reassuring - but by nightfall, a 15-year-old boy had shot and killed five people, one of whom was his brother. 'Not only close to home, but it was on a river trail that Dean regularly rides his bike. I guess the boy had not read the article. Hmm...how to be at peace - no matter what evil is going on in the world around us?
Verses to memorize and have at your recall:
‘Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind, and keep you quiet and at rest, as you trust in him.’6
The peace of God guards our hearts and minds, Friend. What a concept! Therefore we can stand firm and strong when temptation or doubt … when fiery darts of condemnation or anxiety-producing fears attempt to get the better of us. We stand firm in the confidence of who we are in Jesus Christ, who will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on him.7
As I sign off today, I think of Paul's writing about having peace...could it be because he faced great opposition in bringing the good news of Christ to so many? Paul, who like the Roman soldiers covered hundreds of miles to share the gospel, faced stoning, shipwrecks, flogging and imprisonment, surely knew the human struggle to live at peace.8
A couple years ago I memorized Paul's blessing of the Romans--I pray it over you now: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.9 If I start to worry, I personalize it and pray it:
O God of hope, please fill me with joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I may overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Peace, great song by Danny Gokey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYWrtyc87H8
Praying for you to know God's peace~
1 - Expositions of Holy Scriptures, Alexander Maclaren
2 - John Wooden: First, How to Put on Your Socks, Newsweek, 10.24.99
3 - "Caligae – Roman Army Boots" by Viscount Sir Corin Anderson
4 – John 14.27
5 – Romans 12.18
6 – Philippians 4.6-7
7 – Isaiah 26.3
8 - 2 Corinthians 11.25-30
9 - Romans 15.13