The Shoe Rule
by Dawn Aldrich
“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5
We never made taking our shoes off before we entered our house a hardened rule. Maybe because my parents never enforced a shoe rule on me when I was growing up. But I do remember the households that did have a shoe rule.
Grammy had a shoe rule even though Grampy overlooked it all the time. She had rules for just about everything and it showed. Her furniture was covered in plastic, her rugs had plastic runners, her lampshades were even covered in plastic. With all that plastic, I’m not sure she really needed the shoe rule. A good broom or vacuum should have been sufficient. Maybe Grampy thought so, too.
My aunt’s house had a shoe rule. We were greeted with “Hi there. Take your shoes off and c’mon in.” Her house was more inviting since I could actually feel the carpet underneath my feet and the fabric of her couches on my legs.
Most Eastern countries hold fast to a shoe rule, like Japan, Korea, Turkey. Even Sweden adopted the shoe rule. In these countries, besides the practical mean of keeping the house clean of dirt, bacteria, and toxins, it has become a gesture of respect and politeness to discard your shoes before entering the home.
I guess I understand the need for a shoe rule. It does keep the floors and furniture cleaner and even softens your steps inside the house. Myself, I prefer to go barefoot inside, especially in the warmer months, or to wear slippers in the colder months. But, I don’t enforce a shoe rule on anyone who enters my home if it makes them feel uncomfortable (unless they’re tracking in heavy dirt or snow). I mean, what if they have holey socks or smelly feet? What if they don’t want to bare their tootsies? I let them be.
God had a shoe rule. When Moses walked up to the burning bush in Exodus 3, God ordered him to take off his sandals for the ground where he was standing was holy ground. It held the presence of Almighty God, the great I Am. By taking off his shoes, Moses signified his reverence, respect, and submission to God. It was a solemn pause and preparation before coming into God’s presence. It wasn’t man’s law. It wasn’t a matter of keeping God’s house clean. Rather, he recognized who God was and acknowledged Him as the Almighty.
Today, shoes are an expression of who we are. The can be sensual, exotic, practical, or comfortable. In short, they reflect our mood, our wealth, and our place in society. To God, none of that matters. He doesn’t care if our shoes are of the finest, imported leather or the crudest, man-made plastic. He just wants us…plain…simple…bare. He wants us to come into his presence unencumbered, unadorned, without distinction.
I Am is calling your name. Go to Him. Kick off your shoes. You’re standing on holy ground.