Art Journal Note: To create this page, I was trying out some new distress inks, and just used a few sprays of a denim blue and magenta pink directly onto this double spread page. I loved the effect as it was, so (unusually for me!) decided to leave it as a simple background.
Tip: knowing when to stop adding things and fiddling around can be tricky! Sometimes it’s a great idea to leave your artwork for a short break, before deciding whether to go in for another round of layering, stencils or collage! Sometimes less is best.
I added the lettering a couple of weeks later, while at New Wine. ‘Take off your shoes’ was written using a stencil and purple Staedtler fineliner, and ‘Here I am’ was written freehand using a black Micron pen, copying a font from my little collection of favourite alphabet fonts to copy.
Tip: it can be a good idea to prepare a few backgrounds ahead of when you may need them, so that they are ready to put words on, that’s handy when you don’t have much time but really want to record what God has shown you.
Take Off Your Shoes
For me, this has been a summer of learning to take off my shoes.
In Exodus chapter 3 we find Moses in the wilderness, far away from home tending his father-in-laws flocks. God manages to catch Moses’ attention through a burning bush, that doesn’t burn up completely. As Moses is drawn closer out of curiosity, God speaks – calling him by name.
It seems to me that Moses could have chosen to run away, yet instead he chose to stay and replied, ‘Here I am’.
This struck a chord with me – when God gets our attention, when he calls to us from whatever our ‘burning bush’ moments may be to us – this should be our reply:
‘Here I am!’
And then there’s the shoes. God could have given Moses any number of instructions – maybe ‘go home and fast for seven days and then come back and I’ll talk to you then’ or ‘build me an altar and slaughter half the herd on it’. No.
God just told Moses to take off his shoes, for he was standing on holy ground.
The shoes were simply a barrier between Moses physically experiencing this holy ground for himself. With his own bare feet. God wanted him to connect with His holiness. To feel it between his toes, under his skin, for his whole body to be resting upon it. His shoes were a barrier, that could potentially help him to run away. With no shoes, Moses was vulnerable and present, experiencing God’s company.
We struggle so to be holy. We yearn for the divine. Yet, how often we are standing on holy ground and need only take off our shoes to strip away whatever prevents us from experiencing the holy.
(Macrina Wiederkehr ‘Seasons of Your Heart’)
There are so many verses in the Bible that say that God is always with us. Just for example, ‘Christ in you the hope of glory’, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ and ‘I will be with you always even to the end of the age’. It occurred to me that if God is truly in us and with us always – then surely the very ground we tread on is holy ground.
Every step we take, God is there – holy ground.
Everywhere we go, God is there – holy ground.
I’ve been learning to be on the lookout, and to take off my shoes more often.
God often tries to get our attention through the ordinary and the extraordinary,
and sometimes both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.
In the wonderful book ‘Seasons of your Heart’ by Macrina Weiderkehr, she reflects on this beautifully:
If you should ever hear God speaking to you from a burning bush, and it happens more often than most of us realise, take off your shoes for the ground on which you stand is holy.
Father God, thank you that you do speak to me in so many ways, to try to get my attention. May I constantly be on the lookout for what you are wanting to say to me, through the ordinary, the extraordinary and sometimes both. And Father, may my response be to take off my shoes and say ‘Here I am’.
In Jesus’ name,