Beautiful. Really?

I didn’t expect my feet to hurt quite so much.

When we awoke in the morning, the day stretched ahead with only the promise of leisure and enjoyment.  A relaxing weekend of driving through the countryside seeking old bridges had prepared us for nothing like the actual ordeal.

One of the bridges we sought, the Lovely Lady and I, had eluded us up till then.  It occurred to us that we might need to leave the comfort of the pickup truck to find this one.  We were up to the challenge.

I thought we were up to the challenge.

I never figured on wading across the river.  I never intended to take off my good shoes, much less my socks.

Still, once the decision was made, there was no question in my mind it could be done easily.  In hindsight, the arrogance of ignorance is laughable. 

Only, I wasn’t laughing.

It was done, but it was touch and go for a moment or two.

You never heard such moaning and complaining in your life.  The pain could still be felt more than twelve hours later.  Fifteen feet across the waterway on the jagged flint rocks was more than enough to leave bruises on the bottoms of my tender soles, the like of which I’ve never experienced.

I used to go barefoot everywhere I went.  Hot pavement, rock driveways, wild overgrown fields?  All could be run across with no effects to be felt at all.  I’ll grant you it was fifty years ago.  Still, in retrospect, I’m ashamed of my performance.

My feet let me down.  For those few moments, they were the most important thing in my life.  Nothing mattered more than getting to the dry strand on the opposite shore, where I could sit down and replace my socks and shoes.  Nothing.

Feet!  How is it that something so unattractive and so mundane could demand the attention of every other part of my being?  

For those seconds, I didn’t think about how hungry I was.  I stopped worrying about the horseflies that buzzed about, ready to sting.  The little seed ticks which would torment later were not even a blip on the radar screen.

My feet were in extreme pain!  They needed relief. Immediately.

The promotion from lowest on the priority list to extremely urgent came as quite a surprise.

I was still mulling that over later as, fully shod and with walking sticks in hand, we made our way down into the little hollow in which the lost bridge was to be found.2016-05-30 11.38.17

There was a day when the structure was the most important part of someone’s life.  The craftsmanship and unimaginable hours of toil necessary to build the little stone arch took all the attention of the men who built it, nearly one hundred and seventy years ago.

Every stone had to be cut by hand, chipped and formed by hammer and chisel, before being laid in place.  Each one rested, without mortar, between neighboring stones which eventually would reach up to form the arch that wagons would drive across, horses and mules would gallop over, and even in later years, automobiles would ease up and over to avoid the rushing water below.

At one time, the bridge was a necessity, as well as a thing of beauty.  Almost certainly, the folk who used it praised the forethought of those who had planned and carried out its construction.  That day is long past.

The celebrated structure is nothing more than a dim memory to most.  Not even that to many others.  The folks living on the farms around about are as likely as not to be unaware of its very existence.  I know, because I asked them.

There is no road that leads to it today.  No one maintains the integrity of the bridge at all and it is likely to collapse completely very soon.

Yet, it once stood as a proud testimony to craftsmanship and hard work.  No one who passed that way failed to recognize the importance of the little bridge to their freedom to travel east and west across the waterway with ease.

What once was essential is now irrelevant.

My aching feet, however, are a different story.

You know, I normally pay little attention to my feet.  But oh, how important those two ugly things at the ends of my legs seemed to me in the middle of that river.

The Savior thought feet were important.  He spent some of His last moments on earth with his followers making sure their feet were clean. (John 13:1-17)

Taking on the role of a servant, He reminded them that even those seemingly unimportant things were of great import to Him.

He washed their dirty feet.  Their stinking, road-worn feet.

It should be so for us today, also.  Our Savior turned the world upside down.  He did it so we would turn the world upside down.

The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. (Matthew 20:16)

If we want to be great, we must learn to be servants. (Matthew 20:26-27)

Feet, for all their disadvantages and dishonor, perform an essential function.  We count on them to get us from Point A to Point B.  When they fail to answer the call to duty, we instantly understand their significance.

Did you know the prophet describes them as beautiful when they are carrying the Good News?  Somehow, I think I might have chosen a different description, but there it is—How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them that bring good news.  (Isaiah 52:7)

Beautiful.  Feet.  Beautiful.

Bridges are nice.  They make life easier.

But, bridges crumble and decay.  People forget they ever existed.

Our service is a legacy that will last far beyond our years on this earth.

Perhaps, it’s time to take care of the things that really matter.

When we bend to serve, we lend aid to the King of all Creation.

Feet might be a good place to start.

He bent to serve us.

How can we do less?




What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
(Augustine of Hippo ~ Roman theologian ~ 354-430)


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:14-15 ~ NLT)







© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Beautiful. Really?

  1. Fantastic analogy, Paul! We often never think of our feet, or other extremities of our bodies, unless they are in pain. Your story is a great wake-up call to be thankful in all things and to serve.

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