Naked and Barefoot

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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[T]he LORD told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.

Isaiah 20:2

Isaiah 20 narrates a startling incident in the life of Isaiah. The Lord commanded him to take off his clothes and walk around naked. His nakedness was a sign to the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Philistines of what would soon happen to them. The King of Assyria would triumph over them, taking them as prisoners. In the Ancient Near East, it was common for prisoners to parade without clothing in front of their captors as a sign of their shame. Such was in store for several of Israel’s neighbors.

For us, the unsettling part of this story is not the message Isaiah brings, but the way he brings it. We would be horrified if we had to walk around naked for three years. Our shame would be similar to that of Isaiah in his day. We wonder why God asked Isaiah to do such an embarrassing thing.

I’m not sure we can figure out God’s motivations here. But this much is clear: sometimes the Lord asks us to do hard things, things we find awkward, even embarrassing. For you, it probably won’t be three years of public nakedness. But it might be speaking of your faith with your colleagues or admitting that you attend church regularly in a group of non-Christians or . . . you name it. For me, I think of times when, in preaching, I’ve felt that God wanted me to be open about my failures in life. This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a Christian. To be sure, there is great joy in serving the Lord. But, sometimes, what God asks of us stretches us and challenges us.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever known that God wanted you to do something that was scary to you, or embarrassing? How did you respond? Where in your life, right now, do you find obedience to the Lord to be difficult? Where are you resisting him?

PRAYER: Gracious Lord, I must admit that this story gives me the willies. If you were to ask me what you asked of Isaiah, I don’t know what I’d do, honestly. Thank you, at any rate, for not asking me to walk around naked!

But I do think of times when you have led me to do something that I dread. Your call isn’t always easy, even though, in the end, I know that your yoke is the light and easy one. But sometimes what you ask of me is hard. It stretches me, challenges me, unsettles me. And there are times, Lord, when I just plain chicken out. You know that.

So forgive me, Lord, when I fail in my obedience. Help me to give all that I am to you, trusting you fully even when you ask me to do something that I really don’t want to do. Amen.

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