The challenge was thrown down. A line drawn in the sand. Who amongst us was strong enough to rise to the occasion?
More than 35 people sat in the small room. Grouped into "families" and not knowing what each hour was going to bring. Surprise after surprise left some overwhelmed, others feeling excited and yet there were a few that were still a little confused.
Myself, I was among the latter. It had been three days with people that had quickly become my family and knew me like only brothers could. My story was their story, and their lives mirrored mine. It was as if we were put together after an intensive background check. However, no paperwork had been filed to provide that type of information. We were grouped in ways that no one could have imagined and the similarities within our circle could have only been known by One.
The weekend had been amazing up until the line was drawn for me. Although there was no sand I could see the line clearly. Well, maybe not clearly. It may have been blurred a little through the river of tears flowing from my eyes.
As the speaker wrapped up his talk he spoke of John 13, if my mind serves me right. He spoke of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and receiving Jesus into their hearts. It was a very intense and touching moment and there were many tears while he talked.
Then the challenge came. "Who among you will take off your shoes today, stand, and allow Jesus into your heart?" was the question that was posed next. I am not sure who, how many or when people stood. I didn't need to know that.
I was still sitting. My shoes were still on. I don't need to stand up. I have Jesus in my heart. I do good things. I don't need to do this thing he is asking us to do. I'm a teacher. I go to church. I have been baptized, confirmed and married in the church. I am good to go!
Then the man spoke, Again.
"I ask you again", came the voice, "Who among you will take off your shoes, stand and take Jesus in your heart?" An older gentleman next to me removed his shoes and stood. Immediately he was surrounded by others who wanted to help him with this amazing moment.
I am not sure what happened next, or why.
I guess I probably do know why.
But my size 9.5 Nike Shox were now lying next to my feet. And all of a sudden I was standing. Right there in the middle of the room. I was standing, with shoes off, in the middle of a group of people I had met only 3 days prior.
Tears pouring down my face as person after person slowly walked over, placed their hands on my shoulders and prayed. Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of a release and prayers of a weight lifted off of my shoulders.
I couldn't tell you how long I stood there. It felt like an eternity. But it felt Good. For the first time in a long time, a sense of peace consumed my body. Peace that only comes when a person realizes that their way is not the only way. A peace that comes when you turn everything over to God and let him in. I let him in.
I did just that!
I took my shoes off!
I stood up!