Have you ever noticed a small child for some reason would rather move about barefoot than to wear shoes? Being a grandparent makes you a bit more aware of the clothing habits of a child. It seems that whether they’re a toddler or a pre-teen they will shed the shoes the minute they hit the door. Of course, they never know where they took them off, and it’s always a search and rescue event to find them at the end of the day, but, the bottom line is, they simply don’t like the hinderance of wearing shoes. Maybe it’s because they are confining or restrain them in some way, but it could be they would rather not have something that separates them from their journey. So shoes and socks are optional to a child, no matter the temperature outside. I’ve also never seen or even heard of a child being born wearing shoes. They simply don’t make Converse for pre-borns. However every mother will enter the hospital pregnant with two bags. One bag packed for herself and the other bag for her newborn. They both go in the hospital doors - one barefoot and the other pregnant - but when they leave the baby’s always wearing a pair of sneakers. It’s ironic that the first thing a child is forced to wear as an infant is the first thing they take off as a toddler.
When we think of barefoot and pregnant, we conjure images of hot Southern summer days where a young mother-to-be is just too uncomfortable to wear shoes. With that thought in mind, let’s visit the Old Testament book of Joshua again and notice two things that occur with the young nation of Israel just after they have crossed the Jordan river for the first time in their lifetime. They have barely stepped foot onto their new land when Joshua spots a man ahead of him with his sword drawn for battle. Joshua approaches the stranger and asks one direct question, “Are you for us or against us?” Or, in other words, have you come to fight for us, or are you here to fight for our adversaries? The man answered that he was neither and that he was actually the commander of the Lord’s army. I love what has been subtly dropped into this passage in Joshua 5:14 when the man says, “Now I have come.” Joshua and the nation of Israel have just found themselves barefoot and pregnant. Notice that every time the Lord was about to birth something new, powerful, and life-changing for Israel, he required total transparency first. When Moses stood before the burning bush, God spoke to him from that place and had him remove his shoes. Moses was to lead the nation out of slavery, and God birthed that calling barefoot from a bush in the wilderness. Now Joshua has been directed to do the same 40-plus years later. Joshua humbly asked the man what message the lord had for him, and his instruction was an eerily accurate comparison to the encounter Moses had: remove your shoes, for the place where you stand is holy. Joshua, like Moses, found himself barefoot and pregnant before the lordThe Lord preceded great birthings for Israel with holy visitations that required maximum transparency. Notice that God didn’t send either of them to prophet school or combat training before their assignments; he called them to a place of transparency. No sword, no armor, no weapons training. Through Moses, he birthed deliverance and freedom, and, through Joshua, he was about to birth the possession of that freedom, and it all started with the words “now I have come.”
There’s a lot more to discuss concerning who this mysterious man actually was, why their manna suddenly stopped falling from heaven, Passover and more. For now let’s just focus on remaining barefoot and pregnant. I guess we will have to just meet at Christpoint church this Sunday and figure it all out. Consider this your official invitation to a 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. service. We’re on the square in Sparta, and we’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.