A Lesson from Jesus’ Selections

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Something that has truly impressed me about the series The Chosen is how alive the characters are. They stand before us in their flawed and relatable humanity. Sometimes, when we read Scripture or we have read certain stories over and over again, we see these characters as kind of flat. We miss some important lessons.

The disciples are an interesting bunch. Something that stands out as we watch is how truly different they were. Watching how most in the group excluded the former tax collector Matthew (and some like Simon hated him); watching the similarities between Matthew and Thomas (and the disdain Thomas has for this); watching the brother dynamics (there were several sets of brothers)– it’s fascinating. Scripture, just like the show, doesn’t shy away from the conflict that arose due to the differences in personality, background, profession, and even wealth. And what I find even more interesting is that these differences never went away. There are elements of these people that cannot be removed or taken away, like their pasts. It is what it is.

That’s not to say the disciples didn’t change. Their characters changed. As they spent time with Jesus and each other, the men we see in the book of Acts are not the same as the ones we see trekking in the gospels. They were able to learn to work together, despite their deep differences. More than that, God had a special purpose for each one. Jesus called each one because they had a sincere heart and something about that heart had something special to bring to the table and to the world (whether they knew it at the beginning or not).

Jesus saw every detail and put them together despite the friction and discomfort. The leadership in some, the nurturing in others, the beauty and craft of some, and the attention to detail in others. None of this was an accident. He gathered an unlikely group, but I would dare say that in this unlikely group, somewhere in there, we can find a piece of ourselves represented.

What a lesson, to see that what makes us different should not divide us, but should grow us. What a lesson to see that God doesn’t just use one type of person, but that pieces of His character can be seen across the spectrum. We are all made in His image. What a lesson that different people shouldn’t mean different groups, but it should mean one powerful group. What a lesson that as we walk with Jesus, we can learn to work together. Our goal and mission are bigger than who we are. It’s all about Him.

Company

“Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have answers. Let me keep company always with those who say, ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment and bow their heads.”

Mary Oliver, “Mysteries, Yes”

We all want answers. It’s our human desire. This desire impacts how we communicate with one another.

I have found that we often are not seeking to learn. This is reflected in how we engage with each other or how we don’t engage with each other. We’ve reached a level of narcissism as a society that is dazzling and keeps us tightly shut. I have seen people complain about dialogue. This week alone on Twitter, I saw at least 10 posts of people bashing those who responded negatively to their comment or “post.” If you can’t handle a different opinion than your own, then why post at all? Then, there are those who pride themselves in ignoring or brushing off those they disagree with– not out of care for the other person, but out of arrogance and feeling superiority. This is where we are at. Disagreement is just material for another complaining post that makes the writer or recipient some sort of victim of life.

I miss when people actually did things with their lives outside of posting or sharing a view on a certain topic. What happened to living a well-rounded, virtuous life? (Questions we should all be asking ourselves are: When was the last time we were willingly inconvenienced to meet another’s physical needs? How often do we step out of our comfort settings?) I miss when people had their own thoughts (meaning they could actually back them up with unique phrases, history and motivations rather than a regurgitation), even if they were disagreeable. I miss when we could actually engage with one another and have dialogue, so both sides could learn. This is diminishing, sometimes not even out of lack of willingness, but out of lack of depth. We have become echoes of other men, rather than separate voices.

As we enter a new season filled with its own challenges, I hope we can take time to shut off the noise and listen to God first. I hope we can develop our own thoughts. That we can do more with our lives than post. That we can show true character and care for others. Sometimes, care does look like a difficult conversation.

I have found in my own experience that sometimes, my intentionality in trying to show others kindness and respect in a moment of vulnerability has been misunderstood for agreement. And then, if something comes up where there is disagreement expressed, people look at you like you are another creature. You can feel the shift. Suddenly, you aren’t the person they want to turn to when you don’t mirror them. Textbook projection. I’ve had someone who didn’t know me try to tell me who I was. This was funny and insane, all the same.

There is nuance in life. I’ve mentioned it before, but it seems like something we keep trying to gloss over. It’s absurd to think that everyone you like thinks like you. I remember I was in a meeting once, and a superior was shocked that not everyone thought like him/her. How dare we all have our own minds, sets of experiences, and desires in the same org? We need to step out of this arrogance. I loved Mary Oliver’s words that opened the post. This idea of keeping in close company those willing enough to be wrong. (Notice others are not discarded or shut out but just left at a distance). We put surety on a pedastal, but what if surety is overrated? Who ever changed the world with something others thought was a “sure thing”? What we need is a world filled with more people trying to make discoveries, saying, “Look!”

What if we gave people freedom and space to move around in? What if the truly intelligent person is the one who leaves more space for the unknown, rather than trying to push something they believe is settled? What if we were ok being surprised by life–astonished even? What if we were humble enough to bow in that astonishment? Part of life’s mystery is how God continues to astonish us at every turn. Every turn.

I’m all for being a lifetime learner. If you hate this, let me know and explain why. xx

Some Gave All

By: Gabriela Yareliz

When I was young, I had a little bear that was dressed in a military uniform. I called him Lieu-teddy, short for lieutenant. My dad gave him to me when he was training to join the Air Force. I believed that if I squeezed him hard enough, my dad, out in training, would feel my hug. I blame Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess for this line of thinking.

The news coming out of Afghanistan in these past couple of weeks has weighed heavy on my heart. I won’t delve into the incompentence that has led us here. It would be filled with anger, and to be honest, tears. If you think this was the right way to do things, you clearly have not had anything on the line or been personally connected to these issues. I’ll focus on the human element for just a moment. That’s all I want to see. You see, my rage and sadness was purely focused on the young heroes lives sacrificed and their grieving families.

This country has a deep-rooted problem in the level of disrespect and contempt many have for the military and police, quite frankly. In many ways, we have lost respect for the concepts of duty, freedom, honor, and sacrifice. We, for some reason, can’t deal with the nuance of life. My family was a military family during 9/11. I’ll never forget what that time did to this country and to our lives on the base. I’ll never forget how so many classmates had to say goodbye to one parent and sometimes, both.

I’ll never forget the friends in my high school ROTC program; my friend Christina’s Senior Project to make boxes of needs and goodies for the military and her beautiful wedding at the First Baptist Church, her young husband in uniform; and friends who enlisted after graduation.

I offer my condolences to the families and veterans who are grieving. Many of us have grieved at the news of your loss and will continue to do so. And to those who have suffered any loss or sacrificed anything in these past 20 years– we will not forget the heroism of all that was given. As painful as it is to just look at the now, it’s painful to look at all of it. To hold all of it, collectively. To know so many lives have been impacted. To know so many lives have been given on our behalf. To know so many lives have been spared due to brave men and women. We hold this grief and gratitude together.

“All gave some, and some gave all.”

A Letter to Louisiana

By: Gabriela Yareliz

The waters will recede and return home. You’ll be home, too.

The sunshine will peek out and warm the flaky paint skin on the old buildings. It will soak up the heavy rains like a mother cleaning up a wound. Its hot rays a bright Band-Aid.

You’ll sit on your porch again and watch the shutters glimmer in the heat; the visible heat waves shimmering like nature’s glitter. The waves distorting what is there. It only feels like it’s melting, but it’s not. Only you are. You know this.

You’ll sit and talk into the night; whispers on the porches in the glow of a dim gold light under the night’s carpet of stars. The tap-tap of the bugs against the light bulb a rhythm keeping time.

You’ll get that feeling when the drops of sweat running frantic under your clothes stop stiff as you walk into blasting air conditioning.

You’ll hear the insects’ chorus in the night as you lay your head peacefully on a fluffy pillow.

You’ll hear the rains on the fronds, and you won’t fear– your feet on dry land. Your pelican in the sky.

Where are the Journalists?

By: Gabriela Yareliz

“It’s the business in general that bothers me. It’s beyond a disgrace, and I don’t know what the proper word is to describe the mainstream news business now. It’s terrible; absolutely terrible. It’s pure propaganda.”

Greg (was a writer, editor and producer for CNN and print reporter for Reuters– left the business 18 years ago).

This week, I was listening to a talk morning show from right here in NYC. A former journalist called in. His comment was right on point. I am not someone who was a part of the business 18 years ago, but nine years ago, I graduated journalism school and then went to law school.

When I look at the principles we were taught at the journalism school, it is worlds away from what we see now.

So much of what is now mainstream was unacceptable. I would dare argue, it still is unacceptable. When I went to school, these behaviors classified you as a commentator spewing out your own opinion– you were not a journalist.

A journalist spoke truth. My reporting professor always semi-joked, “If your mother tells you she loves you, you better investigate that and make sure you have solid unbiased evidence to back that up.” You never take someone’s word for it. Your job was to unveil the truth and give it to the public with precise simplicity. It was about making truth accessible. We were taught to dig through trash cans and review receipts and scribbled notes and to never underestimate the power of reading a document upside down from across a table or through a nearby reflection. We were to insist everything was on the record. That’s why we were there. You didn’t betray a source. Ethics was a required course. So was Media Law.

They taught us how to investigate legally and with compassion around tragedies. We were taught to find just about anything. I always try to use my powers for good. We were taught to guard our minds and avoid the appearance of impropriety, which meant not registering with a political party if you could help it. To receive things and not stop there– and dig, dig, dig. Objectivity for humans personally may be impossible but the delivery of truth is not.

The networks that used to have journalists who would bring on a variety of guests are filled with weak commentators only interested in pushing a narrative that has been vomited from another unreliable source. What we have seen are not guardians of truth, democracy and freedom but puppets with no character or spine. They don’t ask hard questions and reframe if they are met with a refusal. What we have are people who facilitate messaging. We have people who want to tell us that what we are seeing with our own eyes is not true. It’s like we are in Room 101 being educated in doublethink.

“Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what George Orwell called the ‘official truth’. They simply cipher and transmit lies. It really grieves me that so many of my fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as ‘functionaires’, functionaries, not journalists. Many journalists become very defensive when you suggest to them that they are anything but impartial and objective. The problem with those words ‘impartiality’ and ‘objectivity’ is that they have lost their dictionary meaning. They’ve been taken over… [they] now mean the establishment point of view… Journalists don’t sit down and think, ‘I’m now going to speak for the establishment.’ Of course not. But they internalise a whole set of assumptions, and one of the most potent assumptions is that the world should be seen in terms of its usefulness to the West, not humanity.”

John Pilger

But make no mistake, this doesn’t mean journalism is dead. What I have noticed as I search for people who actually investigate and put their lives on the line for truth is that they can be found on smaller websites/platforms that were previously ignored. Real journalists are shaping their field by voicing their investigations and sharing truth where they can.

The amount of journalists I have seen get censored, deleted and cut off from mainstream tv, print and social media has been astounding. It goes against everything we were taught. Everything we literally stand for. These are people on the ground, risking everything (often including their lives), not comfortably crying or being snarky in an air conditioned studio with hair and makeup ready to come on during commercial breaks.

Today, real journalists are less visible, but they are still there, digging and sharing. In this world where truth is a safeguard, many have been given shovels, but few are willing to get their hands dirty to find the gold. Thank you to all the ones out there who are documenting and sharing truth. You are rare, but you are the standard.

“Always go too far because that’s where you will find the truth.”

Unknown (some attribute this to Albert Camus, but prob not)

Round with Mystery

By: Gabriela Yareliz

We don’t always have things figured out before we start. Sometimes, all we have is a question. Beth Kempton talks about this in her summer writing course. I get that, and yet, we often foolishly want to have things figured out, a map charted, a path paved. We like neat little things that are simple and easy. Flat and visible, not round with mystery. But life doesn’t work that way. Just as it is in writing, and in so many other art forms, in life, we don’t get to have everything ready or understood. We are often on a journey to understand and figure out. It takes attention, energy, curiosity… a comfort with uncertainty and risk that we as a society often stay away from and try to cancel out.

It’s ok to start something and not know where it’s going. It’s ok to only have the question and not the answer. Those tend to be the most meaningful journeys– the ones where we have a burning question, and we continue and continue until we have more clarity.

Seeing What Others Don’t

Image via Wallpapertag.com

By: Gabriela Yareliz

One of the most interesting books I have ever read is Seeing What Others Don’t by Gary Klein. It’s a heavy read, but I encourage anyone to pick it up. (I have a special disdain for those who are like, I’ll fill you in on what it says, as you wouldn’t be able to understand it. It’s this level of arrogance and apathy that has made the world as unconscious as it is).

Individualism, (which has synonyms such as: unconventionality, eccentricity, freethinking and independence), gets a bad rap these days. We think a lot about the collective and moving as a collective. Now, I am not writing this as advocating for selfishness. I think this is a sloppy label slapped onto individualism by people who don’t understand the contributions individualism has brought to us, as a society.

While the world was mired in groupthink, we have had people who dared to embrace solitude, discrimination and ideas and concepts that were seen as crazy or moronic by the morons of their time.

Something a lot of the people in Seeing What Others Don’t had in common was they were often ridiculed or thought crazy for their discoveries and theories. Then, later, they were proven right. They kept pushing, despite everyone around them trying to silence them. Sometimes, they had to make rash decisions in a blink to save lives.

Here are some people who defied groupthink and pushed toward knowledge and truth:

Gregor Mendel (Pioneered the science of genetics. He had an experimental garden for seven years where he was breeding and cross-breeding peas. It wasn’t until about 16 years after his death that people finally understood what he was talking about.)

Ignaz Semmelweis (Known as “saviour of mothers.” He came up with the concept and observation of lives being saved when doctors would wash their hands between autopsies and births. He was sent to an insane asylum, and then Louis Pasteur, 20 years later, proved him right.)

George Zweig (Called crazy because he believed in invisible particles. Contributed to partical physics.)

Albert Einstein (His math re the cosmological constant was right on the money. This was seen after he was treated like an idiot for a long while.)

[Fun details are here and in encyclopedias (online or books– not hard to find).]

And these examples are just scientists. I would argue even Jesus makes the list of defying the public’s general understanding of life and how things should work.

My point is simple. The world has been utterly changed and flipped upside down by people who clung to their convictions and ideas bravely, not out of ignorant stubbornness but out of seeking knowledge and truth. People like that still exist, thank God.

Seeking knowledge and truth always requires freedom. There is no way around it. There were always people who criticized and tried to censor, but they always ended up on the wrong side of history.

George Orwell once wrote, “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

In such polarizing times, we should remember to leave the door open to those who are seeing what others don’t. Time seems to be the rewarder of such people. Being on the side of freedom, knowledge and truth can never be wrong.

Autumn Anticipation

Image by Opheliesz

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”

William Cullen Bryant

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It has been a strange season where tension and thick trauma linger in the air like a dense fog. But don’t worry– I am not here to dwell on that, today.

We are approaching the season that makes one feel like one is at Stars Hallow at Luke’s (Gilmore Girls), sitting in the diner with Seinfeld on the Upper West Side (Seinfeld), out by the fence with Wilson in Michigan (Home Improvement)– all these TV shows bring the autumn vibes. This season also inspires me to gravitate toward classic literature. I think I will finally crack open Little Women or restart the Little House on the Prairie series. It’s time to chuck our phones and let people leave a message (90s style), get outside and bring an umbrella and a jacket…

Last Sunday, it was drizzling, and the air was cool. I wore a jacket and drank my first hot Pumpkin Spice tea of the latter half of 2021. There is a strange excitement that sweeps over me when I feel something in the air– anticipation. Nature whispers to us, “It’s coming.”

What have I been up to in these last days of summer? I built a new bookshelf. I surpassed my Goodreads challenge of 50 books for the year, and I am currently deciding which one is next. I am preparing for some bomb author interviews with some cool people on ModernWitnesses.com. (Stay tuned). My ’23 and Me’ app alerts me every day that they have found 30 new relatives for me. I am starting to believe we are all truly, and quite literally, family.

I am measuring my pillow. Apparently, according to my chiropractor, our pillows are supposed to be thin, and not these fluffy hotel nonsense pillows. I am re-learning how to sleep in a way that doesn’t kill my neck. The same chiro will crack every bone in my neck and tell me to walk around, and he asks me, “How do you feel?” Meanwhile, I can still feel his handprint pulsing on the side of my jaw. What does one say? I am always like, “Give me a minute,” while I try to find a way to block out the jaw handprint and my shoulder which was up against a metal clasp of the folding table.

I am helping younger and more inexperienced attorneys hone their craft. This has been a really fun experience, so far. The only downsides to this type of leadership so far are you can’t be anti-social and be like, “leave me alone” and more meetings. #lovingit

Fragile Target deliveries arrive shattered and in pieces, no matter how many times you try. #Targetshipfails should be a trending hashtag.

When I go out for walks, I scan the nature to try to find signs of autumn. I want to make my home cozier… enter AutumnCozy’s YouTube channel, which gives you an autumn soundtrack (I have followed her for years on Tumblr– since journalism school and starting this blog).

As I have always said, this season always represents new beginnings for me. I remember my ecstatic joy of receiving my new school planner– sometimes they had those scratchy covers. School mascot ablazin’ on there. I would fill in the fun front sections.

I am surrounded by many teachers in my family and friends, and as a kid, I always took this time so seriously, that even in my adulthood, I can’t shake it off. The excitement remains. Something I am grateful for is the fact that learning never ends. And believe it or not, the world is still magical. It’s a season that reminds me of all that can’t be taken away, even in the weird times we live in. There is still so much joy to be found in the moments that interrupt our monotony and in change.

I am bubbling with anticipation.

How do you prepare for the shift in seasons? (I will be cleaning and lighting candles). Are you over this heat wave, yet?

“Life starts over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Running Through the Sprinklers

Image via Miss Maggie’s Kitchen

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Summer. I remember the hot Michigan and Charleston summers. You could find me on my couch eating a frozen Go-Gurt tube, the buttery soft frozen yogurt melting in my mouth, while deep in my reading list. I was always determined to be top in the summer reading program. Back in the day, ‘Book It!’ would give you Pizza Hut parties for successful summer reading challenges. The air-conditioned library was one of my favorite places in the world. Still is. I loved the metallic stickers. I loved the books. (I still do). In a couple of weeks, I will be ordering a new bookshelf because apparently, Book It! never ended for me.

Image via Reddit

The heat outside was often sweltering. Sometimes, I would hear the call of the sprinklers against the window or plants lining the house, and I would run out to play in them. Getting a new slip-and-slide was always magical.

In Michigan, there was a tree in the backyard I loved to climb. I would sit up there and think. I still do that, without the tree. There was a joyful and unstructured freedom that was attached to summer. Summer often came with a church camp meeting and time at the pool or pranking people on walkie talkies. Being a kid and not having hit puberty yet meant we didn’t have a care in the world. It was just splashes and pool noodles in the shallow end. Milkshakes from Steak and Shake, McDonald’s soft serve in a cone, popsicles that made your lips turn colors, singing into a fan (*music video time*), rough jeans that were dried by the summer sun. Novela theme songs were the soundtrack to the summers, and evenings filled with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movies on ABC Family.

The sweetness of summer memories still lingers. While some things have changed, I realize others really haven’t.

Who’s Afraid of (Virginia Woolf)…?

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I am a fan of Virginia Woolf… but this play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is about deeper things.

Wikipedia gives us the brief summary that this play was about “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf … who’s afraid of living life without false illusions. The play demonstrates ‘how his characters must rid themselves of falsehood and return to the world in which they must live.'” (Source). As humans, we love creating false illusions.

I think we are living in a time that requires deep discernment. This is not a post with a political agenda. And don’t @ me. (Been a registered independent my whole voting history because I think of myself as a free thinker). I do think we must confront the fact that we are in a time when fear rules the day (and many decisions). People are afraid of illusions, and they are also afraid of living without them.

Fear has been a running theme and thread in humanity since Adam and Eve decided to have a fruit salad that wasn’t theirs to consume. And those of us who have lived through these past two years have been submerged in it. It feels like we’ve been choking underwater, and now we have that pain that comes to the nose when water comes in (if you’ve been swimming (and are a poor swimmer), you know the feeling).

Fear has been a constant narrative being pushed on us by authorities, by news coverage (both sides), by neighbors, professions, etc. People are saturated in a strange paralysis of fear. People are making blanket decisions based on fear. People control because of fear. There is no fear in love, and true love requires total freedom, we see in Scripture (1 John 4:8).

We have varying circumstances around the world. Lockdowns, mandates, resistance, control, fear. Some benefit. Some lose. As someone who has studied both journalism and law, observing international (and national) events has been fascinating, distressing, and at times, shocking. Humanity’s story is old as time.

And despite the disasters we sometimes inflict on ourselves and live through, we have a constant instruction in Scripture that states, “Do not fear.” Scripture doesn’t encourage us to operate in fear but the opposite.

In a time when it’s easy to succumb to fear and the uncertainty that is held by the future, I want to point out a couple things:

God is faithful. I was reading a post by Bianca Alosi-Serratore, a lovely Australian gal who has been posting throughout the lockdowns in Australia. My heart goes out to her and our fellow Australian friends. I loved what she wrote:

“Don’t be afraid, do not fear. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Be ready. Stand strong and remain in hope. When lifeless things are pulled up from the ground, deep wells will burst forth and water barren fields.”

Bianca Alosi-Serratore

Freedom is yours. And I am not just talking Nelson-Mandela mental freedom, but the fact that as people, we are the ones who give away our power. We always have a choice. And sometimes, people choose to have someone else make the choice for them. The truth is, though, the responsibility always lies with us.

Fear wears many masks. Some are so afraid of the virus. I have seen first-hand how deeply and psychologically people have been affected. Some have been touched by the fear of losing their jobs due to the fact that they aren’t afraid of the virus. Fear comes in many ways. The threats are coming in many ways. Fear– it’s part of being human. I don’t think that fear is the problem. It’s ingrained in our fallen nature, so what gives? What matters is what we do with our fear. As humans, we wrestle with it and have to decide what place, if any, we will give it in our lives. What does “living life” look like, I was discussing with a friend, not long ago. That will look different to different people.

We each have to sit and wrestle with whatever fear arrives to us. We must decide what matters more.

We must check our willingness to participate in reality, rather than the illusions or beliefs people want to impose. It would be sad to live a life based on an illusion (created by oneself or another). It means you are operating and making decisions based on something false. [Shallon Lester, a journalist who loves to analyze relationships (and does it well), points out that this is why something like betrayal or adultery is so painful, because we make decisions based on a “reality” that is not real but an illusion.] Which means…

At every step of the way, we must pray for discernment. I think we have confused wisdom and discernment for whatever seems right in our eyes or whatever is prevelant among those we want to be esteemed by. We must, in all humility, pray.

The Common Battle

Fear changes us, and it changes how we operate. Fear can lead us to behave in unthinkable ways. As someone who studied genocides and human rights violations (two certificates, guys, and one is from the International Bar Association), fear has often been weaponized by a group of people who are unafraid to execute some disastrous plans. It’s a repeated fact. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. No matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, I would say fear is something you have to fight against in this day and age. We are all in this battle.

Taking My Shoes Off

Through my Bible study course at Arise, I was meditating on a part in Scripture where Joshua is getting ready to lead Israel forward, and God instructs them on how they will conquer Jericho. See, they needed to get to Canaan and the question was, how the hell were they going to get across Jericho? You know what settled into the camp? I’ve got one word for ya, fear. Joshua is their leader; poor kid– God only knows what was going through His mind. And he was a brave one, y’all.

Let’s take a look:

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15 ESV

See, before God tells Israel their instructions to march around Jericho for six days and blast their trumpets and shout– the Commander of the Lord’s army (the same who appeared to Abraham and Moses) finds Joshua and tells him to do something asked of Moses, previously (Ex. 3:5) — to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.

Taking off one’s shoes was a sign of humilty, reverence and respect. (Jesus was humble enough to take off our shoes and wash our feet). The Bible study instructor points out that it’s interesting to see that when God is about to call these leaders into unknown territory (with a really odd set of instructions), He asks them to take off their shoes. Shoes are a symbol of all that is familiar; a way of arriving to something or somewhere.

God calls us to step up in moments that are shrouded in uncertainty, and oftentimes, our fear. He calls us to this, and the first thing He asks us to do is to take off the familiar and what serves as security, and He asks us to obey and trust Him.

I hope that in these times of uncertainty and fear we may find ourselves standing in His presence. May we seek it, continually. May we find freedom in it. And when we are there, no matter what circumstances look like around us, may we realize that no matter how odd the instruction may be, we are standing on holy ground. Holy ground is found in the uncertainty, with the Commander of the Lord’s army before us.