Ever since I’ve had my own camera, one shot that I’ve always seemed to keep up with unconsciously is my feet. It’s an easy shot to take, and in the moment it doesn’t carry much thoughtful weight, but looking back on them years later, and putting them all together creates a significant picture of experiences, journeys and locations worth reminiscing about and learning from.
In the same way, I feel, our spiritual journeys can be quite similar. We react to instances or moments with that desire to note or attribute something to God, but largely for many of us, we continue on in life without much notice. Those moments, whether noted in a journal or a prayer, when recollected at a later date and compiled into a mountain of thought, they too can highlight compelling realisations of your personal walk with God.
A sermon I heard recently, from Eddie Hypolite, briefly mentioned how the Christian walk should be scarred with blood, sweat and tears.
Blood representing sacrifice, selfless service, putting your personality or character or status under the position of those surrounding you. Not just those around you, which can be read as ‘pick and choose’, but the entire surrounding. And not just putting yourself lower, but lifting them up in the midst of a world that could care less. Lifting requires strength, requires stamina, requires dedication, requires practice, and a sense of the needs and areas that you lack in, in order to see it through.
Sweat representing the work involved. Anyone who frequently exercises knows that if there’s no sweat happening, you’re not properly exercising. “Oh today’s just a stretching day”….really? You’re not pushing yourself and you know it. In the same way, “sweat” in a believers mind should represent the toil, the uphill struggle, the lack of a break in the midday sun while working to prepare soil for planting seed. The work involved.
The tears represent the acknowledgement of times of sadness, of separation, of not feeling like you did everything you could. When I think of tears I think of the minuscule occurrences from childhood that brought me to that point. Small skins of the knee; taking disgusting medicine for my asthma; dropping a freshly completed Lego-build on the ground and watching it shatter into too many pieces; or simply not finding that missing Lego piece you’ve been looking for, for five minutes! The weight we attributed to such small things that brought us to tears represented our commitment to what we were doing. It was our purest heart’s desire and/or conviction. We wanted nothing more than to un-skin the knee, to find the magical missing piece. It was our entire focus in that moment. In the same way, when we feel the sense of failure, of separation, of guilt; that burden we chose to bear and attributed value to then has the power to shed our very purpose to the bone.
So back to pictures of my feet.
In 2007 some of my closest friends and I took a road trip to Ayers Rock, in the center of Australia. I’ve never owned hiking boots, and I think the only pair of shoes I brought on the trip were dress shoes. So I, along with another of the fellas, endeavoured to climb Ayer’s Rock in thongs (sandals). It was hot, so my feet began to sweat. The goal then was forcefully changed to climbing to the top of this big rock barefoot. I accomplished it. I also had an open wound I could fit my pinky finger inside of for the better part of three weeks.
As I sit on my bed here in Bangalore, India and ponder about the many times and places I’ve taken pictures of my feet; hanging out with Tammy in Manila, Philippines, in Iceland while climbing a glacier, or in Darling Harbour, Sydney enjoying a sunny Sunday with friends; the journey is always changing; the lenses I looked through at each of these places took in so much information that completely contrasted the view from each place. My feet have become stronger, well-travelled, used to adaptation, and I’d like to think, capable of walking on some tough earth without too much pain.
I can’t say the same about my walk as a Christian. I don’t feel my Christian walk has been characterized by blood, sweat, and tears. And I don’t know about you, but the subconscious and horribly indolent aspect of my personality so desires to wait for God to say just how much, in perfect quantitative units, blood, sweat and tears is required of me for God’s service. I’m happy to serve, I just want to know to whats my limit, so I can look after myself in the off seasons.
In my college days, of constant spiritual force-feeding from the environment it was, I was aware and perceptive of the spiritual fire within me. I am confident enough to say that. Was it pure and 100%? Of course not, but neither is yours. Here I am in the real world now, outside of that incestuous idea-bubble, and I still am aware and perceptive of the spiritual fire within me. You see, I’m constantly comparing this kindling-sized fire I have now back to that glowing, red-hot bonfire from before. But it’s a journey. My feet are still only ever going to be my feet. My walk is only ever going to be my walk. Sometimes the journey my feet ride on are amazing, picturesque, and stunning, and often times they are mundane, A to B, measures of pattern.
The spiritual fire I have never stopped being a fire. It may have moments of splendor and incredible casting of light, and it indeed has moments under the threat of being suffocated of the oxygen it so requires. But it hasn’t stopped being a fire. The system of checks and balance I’ve chosen this week to put on my life is this tangible result of blood, sweat, and tears. The Bible in all it’s wisdom and confusion states that you will know someone by their fruits (of the spirit).
Blood, sweat and tears. As long as blood flows to the veins in my feet, they will long for the amazing and fantastic journeys of life that take me up mountains, down valleys, and through oceans. So my soul should long for the opportunities of trial-by-fire-Christianity where my spiritual-fire is stoked, threatened with extinguishers, challenged by wind, and exasperated by the disapproval of those who don’t believe or know the God I follow. And watch as my God leads my readied heart to respond in kind.