Dirty Shoes

I’m in a black mood tonight.  Bad news.  People I love in trouble.  Interactions coming in my schedule which I dread.  Friends making poor decisions.

My spirit is as near to being crushed as it has been in months.

Moments ago, I left the Lovely Lady sitting in a warm and cheery room,  coming to my office to sulk and be miserable.  Warm and cheery only makes me more unhappy when I’m like this.

I want to write, but I don’t do well with that when I’m carrying the weight of the world.  Besides, my mind is spinning out of control.

I need to fix things.  Maybe, if I can think through this, I can fix it.

Do you know all the hours I’ve spent speaking words into the dark room–dreaming that things, and people, would change?

Could you even begin to imagine the number of times I’ve prayed as I’ve lain in bed, sleepless through the early hours of the morning?   Prayers for illumination, for wisdom, for a change of heart in folks for whom I care deeply.

Letters are put into my mailbox,  emails appear on the computer screen, phone calls are answered, and my spirits sink as I  learn of disastrous events and foolish actions.

Tears come.  Why are people so stubborn?  Why can’t I convince them?

The thoughts racing through my head are all about the problems of other people, not my own.  The pain I feel, and the blame I accept, begin to come into focus as I think.

Bear each other’s burdens.

Give to him who asks of you

Surely those words mean that I should help others.  I can’t turn my back on people who need my help.

Can I?

As I consider, in my thoughts I see men, rough and strong, standing at the gate of an ancient walled town.  They are not going in the gate, but coming out.  As they leave, they turn back and, looking at the men standing behind, lift their sandaled feet, one after the other and shake dirt from them.

Their Master had told them to take His good news to the city.  He also gave them directions about what to do if the people rejected the news.  It was a warning to the people, a promise of unhappiness to come.

I’ve always imagined the angry faces of the disciples as they shook the dust off of their feet.  FoolsStupid peopleYou have only yourselves to blame for what comes next!

But, as I watch the scene unfold in my head tonight, for the first time I really see them.  Their sadness is unspeakable.  The tears that flow tell the real story.

Not anger, but sorrow.  Not hate, but love.

And loss.

The Teacher told them the action of shaking the dust off would be a testimony against the people, but I wonder if there was more to it than that.

The responsibility for rejection is not laid on the messenger.  There is no blame to be carried away from there.  That burden is not theirs to carry, but is left on the ground behind them.

Mentally, I turn away from the scene.  And again, as they have more than once today, my eyes are filled with tears.  I am sad, as the truth sinks in.

I have to move on.  The road stretches out in front of me and I must follow.

In the shadows behind me, my loved ones sit in chains.  The key, the simple assurance of freedom, has been placed in their hands, but they sit motionless.

Their choice.

I can’t stay here.  The chains which bind them will almost certainly claim another victim if I do.

The darkness lifts a little as I turn away.  It is painful to leave the people I love behind, but ahead, the light is shining.

This is the hard part.

Time to shake the dust off.

Life is calling.





“Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you.  Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.”
(Luke 10:11 ~ NIV)





© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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