Whether one uses the verbiage of today, “Shake it off!”, or that of ancient times, “Shake the dust from your feet”, there are many ways to accomplish the task of not allowing people or situations to drag me down or to take me away from being or striving to be the best I can be (that is, my authentic self).
Jesus’ words to the disciples: “And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”(Luke 9:5)
As I sit with the thought of shaking the dust, I wonder about the situations, where it seems like the dust cannot be shaken off. What about the situations where the dust is more like mud stuck in and around one’s sandals? What is to happen then? Does the “shake” need to become a “stomp” or some other more forceful action? Do the sandals need to be soaked in soapy water until the mud softens and can be washed away? Or, do they need to be removed and replaced with new ones?
Ultimately, any of the above, could be the answer. There could also be other possibilities. It all depends on whom I am and what I am being called to by God in the situation that I find myself.
Many people are familiar with the story of David and Goliath in the Bible, but perhaps not how he ended up standing in front of Goliath. David is the youngest of 8 sons. Between the ages of 10 and 13 he is anointed by the prophet Samuel.
“The LORD said, ‘There–anoint him, for this is he!’ Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.” – 1 Samuel 16:13
After the anointing and as a young man, David is summoned to Saul (the King) as a musician.
“Saul then told his servants, ‘Find me a good harpist and bring him to me.’ One of the servants spoke up: ‘I have observed that a son of Jesse of Bethlehem is a skillful harpist. He is also a brave warrior, an able speaker, and a handsome young man. The LORD is certainly with him.'” – 1 Samuel 16:17-18
Saul is pleased with David and makes him an armor-bearer. During this time, the Philistines and Israelites go to battle against each other. Goliath is a mammoth Philistine warrior. David, upon his father’s request, is bringing food to his brothers who are soldiers in the Israelite’s army camp. While there, he asks a question about the reward for defeating Goliath and wonders aloud who the giant is that he is against “the armies of the living God.” (1 Sam 17:26). David’s questions and the conversation that results get back to Saul who requests that David be brought to him.
David asks Saul to let him fight Goliath. Saul tells him, “You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him, for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.” (v33). David tells Saul how he has fought off lions and bears while tending his father’s sheep and that he will do the same to Goliath “because he has insulted the armies of the living God.” (v36) Then he says, “The same LORD who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (v37) Saul agrees and David battles Goliath.
While the battle and victory by David seem swift, it is not without what we might call “trash talk” by the giant who scoffs at the youth and size of David and his weapons (a slingshot and 5 stones). David stays his ground though and responds, loud and clear to Goliath, “For the battle is the LORD’s and the LORD shall deliver you into our hands.” (v47) … that is exactly what happens.
To follow the story of David from his birth order and anointing to his battle with Goliath and beyond, it seems clear that “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David” and that David let the Spirit of the Lord lead him. He did so no matter what giant he faced…in doing what seemed impossible (defeating Goliath) and in acknowledging his wrongdoing and turning back to the Lord after succumbing to his weaknesses (in 2 Sam 11-12). In the end, there was no dust or mud on his sandals.
“For the battle is the LORD’s.” When I let it stay that way, instead of making it my own, I know exactly when and how to shake, stomp, soak and wash, or remove and replace my sandals…there is no dust or mud on them.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Is 61:1, Lk 4:18), upon us, how do we embrace It?