Red Carpets and Beautiful Feet
Upon arrival to Kilimanjaro International Airport, the runway stretches toward the African plain and the region's famous landmark soaring on the horizon. From my window, I catch a glimpse of another plane, unmarked, with red ribbons of carpet for disembarking dignitaries. Curious who they are, I later ask my dinner hosts if they know.
Turns out they were leadership from the East African Community, the presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, meeting to address a variety of regional issues. A quick Google search reveals their agenda: discussion on tariffs, borders, the integration of South Sudan, among others—all important items no doubt.
The rest of my time in Tanzania, however, convinces me it will take different leaders to solve this continent's more pressing issues. And I'm reminded of Isaiah's vision: "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!' Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy" (Isa. 52:7-8a).
I spend my week with these watchmen. The publishers. The bringers. I've heard their voices preach and their hearts sing. God says their feet are beautiful. And one day his welcome will be better than a dusty carpet. They'll be given the royal treatment. Better than a rug rolled out from an airport warehouse, when the Chief Shepherd appears he will grace them with the unfading crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:4).
As the pastors I've taught this week return to their churches, two go by car, some by bus, a couple by motorcycle, but most on foot, walking down dirt roads to humble homes. On Sunday, most will preach in modest churches, doing hard work with little immediate reward.
On my own return to Kilimanjaro Airport, the tarmac is bare. No dignitaries or welcoming committee; presidents come and go. But I remember that pastoral crowns never fade. One day, the God who makes the earth his footstool will come to examine feet. To the beautiful he will say, "Well done!"