If you have not read All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein, you must stop what you’re doing right now and go read it. Beautiful, amazing story of human strength and perseverance, the kind of story that scoops out your soul and grounds you in things that matter in this life.
Today, Gerda is a noted author and much celebrated human rights activist, but in 1939, she was just a girl when Nazis invaded her hometown in Poland. She spent the next 6 years living under Nazi rule, removed from her home, losing first her brother, then her father and mother, before being sent to a series of concentration camps. She was tortured and starved- worked nearly to death for three years- and then forced to march 350 miles through the winter forests of Eastern Europe. 4000 women started that cold journey. Only 120 survived.
In the last days that Gerda and her father were together, Julius Weissman insisted that his daughter take her heavy winter boots when she was called to the concentration camps. His request didn’t make sense to her. It was the heat of June and they had said the 'work camps' were only temporary, but her father knew better.
Those boots would save her life.
I can’t imagine being a father and and having to release my teenage daughter into the worst of the world with no better preparation than a good pair of shoes. Just the thought tears my very heart from my chest. Gerda didn’t know what trials waited for her, but her father was wise and he sent her out ready as best he could.
The boots, yes, were crucial, but maybe more important was the fact that her father loved her and valued her enough to provide them for her. Through those long years of unspeakable suffering, something kept Gerda hopeful in the face of the worst kind of degradation. I can only imagine that thing was the peace of knowing that somewhere out there, she was loved. Someone had provided for her.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Eph 6:14-15
“…your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” I always struggled with that one. In the armor of God, all the other pieces make so much more sense. My faith shield and my spirit sword- I know what to do with those. But what about those peace shoes?
More and more, I am coming to understand that the gospel of peace is the foundation for it all. All the grace and borrowed righteousness are no good to us if we are afraid to walk in them. We have to be grounded in them. We have to know them in our souls.
So know this, sweet friend, the gospel of peace is yours. God provided it for you.
Know that the gospel of peace is confidence in who you are in God’s sight. You are crafted by his hand, that same strong hand that has your name tattooed right on it.
Know that the gospel of peace is freedom in the finished work of Christ on the cross. You are free to walk this cold winter wilderness on a path that is fully redeemed.
Know that the gospel of peace is God's assurance that you are not left on your own. He sent Jesus to prepare the way for you. Just for you.
You may not know the trials ahead, but your Father is wise. He sends you out ready as only He can. He has cobbled peace for you, and His son Jesus, footwashing King Jesus, leaned down from the cross and forever tied that sweet peace on your feet.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7