How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Content Warning: Image of really ugly feet.
I run far. And sometimes it takes a toll on my body. I've come to peace with the fact that becoming a foot model is no longer a viable option. I've got a perpetually black toenail, things are a little asymmetrical, and I have been told by those closest to me that they love me more easily when I wear socks.
But my ugly feet tell a story. They tell a story of the adventures that I've been on and the places I've been able to go. And in a very unique way, that makes them sort of beautiful (well, at least to me. My wife remains unmoved).
One of the images that continues to pop up throughout the scriptures is about feet. Multiple times in the Old Testament, and then again in the letter to the Romans, is the phrase "beautiful feet". And what exactly is it that makes feet beautiful? They bring good news. They carry people to proclaim peace and wholeness. They offer the hope of a God who loves them and a Jesus who redeems them.
Beautiful feet are feet that move people to enact God's love in the world.
The legendary story about Mother Teresa has now been confirmed. Many people who spent time with her noticed her deeply deformed feet, but never knew the story behind it. In the leper colony where she served in Kolkata, India, there was always a need for shoes. Boxes of used shoe donations were regularly shipped to the community, but not always enough to go around. Mother Teresa had made it a point to distribute all of the nicest and best fitting shoes to everyone in her care. When those needs had been met, she would wear whatever pair was left over, even if they were too small or broken down. Over the years, her feet began to be misshapen by her radical love for her sick neighbors.
She had beautiful, holy feet that expressed God's love for the poor.
All feet tell a story. Maybe not in some visual way, like the examples above. But they hold the memories of where we've gone and what we've done. And there is a new page that is added to that story daily.
As disciples, it's worth asking ourselves: What story are my feet telling these days? Where are they taking me, and what posture am I holding? What impact is my presence having on others? What story are my hands and heart telling as well? Have I embraced my identity of a beloved child of God, leading my hands and feet and words to be good news and care for others? Is the story my body tells one of good news, or something else?
Of course this image moves beyond the places we walk. Isaiah could have just as easily said, "how beautiful are the mouths of those who use their words to build up," or "how beautiful are the hearts of those who long for every person to have enough," or "how beautiful are the hands that clasp together to pray for one's enemies."
It's been a long year of isolation for many, but we are slowly emerging. Maybe your feet haven't traveled very far. But there are many ways that we can express God's good news of compassion and redemption these days. We can type. We can call. We can give. We can listen. We can walk.
Those things may hurt a little do so, because they often require some sacrifice. It can feel uncomfortable to giving up our comfort or our time for the sake of active love and obedience to Jesus. It feels costly to not participate in the tribalism of our world for the sake of loving each person and being true to Jesus. Sometimes you'll feel the impact, and you'll feel worn down.
But the story being written with each action of Christ-centered love Is the most beautiful, wonderful story ever told. Your feet tell a story. Where have they been? Where are they going? What is the news they bring to others?
Don't despair. You're not alone. Jesus walks with us in our attempts to express his peace and rescue. Our feet are not intended to lead, but to follow. We need only to remain connected, humble, and willing to be people of good news moment by moment.
Your imperfect feet/hands/heart/mind can be used in absolutely beautiful ways. Keep believing.
Jesus, posture my heart and hands today so that my simple actions might help others know Your good news.