Written by Sam Rodebaugh / November 2016
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 (ESV)
I was blessed to be able to be a part of the 2014 Mission Helper Trip to Nepal. Having lived in the Midwest my entire life, nothing could prepare me for the sights, sounds, and smells of Nepal. Nothing is like it. From the way of life, to the food, to the people, to the way you cross the street – every minute of every day was a new experience.
But the most memorable and awe-inspiring aspect of Nepal is its landscape. It’s impossible to describe, no picture could possibly capture the experience of just a second’s viewing. As you drive along a winding mountain road, you look out and all you can see is giant hills everywhere. (We would call them mountains, but Nepali’s call them hills compared to the Himalayas.) Every inch of the hills is terraced, from the valley basin to the very top, rice and corn filling every flat surface. Due to the terraces, the hills looked like giant staircases ending beyond sight in the clouds.
And the hikes gave entirely unique views themselves. Through mountain valley streams to hills above the clouds we hiked. Our “paths” took us into cornfields, along the sides of cliffs, past waterfalls, through villages – hours and hours we would hike. The entire time, we were surrounded by the most spectacular views on God’s green earth. When we paused to catch our breath, our break was almost counterintuitive as the miles of hills and valleys unfolding beneath took our breath away again.
One day on one of these long treks, as I surveyed God’s beautiful creation before me, I was reminded of the passage above. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” How beautiful, to be sure! But the beauty I was beholding were the mountains themselves! Nothing could possibly be more spectacular than watching the sun disappear behind the horizon of a lush, green mountain.
Yet, it’s not the mountains God is speaking of through the prophet Isaiah. He says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are THE FEET…” That doesn’t make any sense. In the midst of the most beautiful corner of God’s creation, He’s pointing down at my feet? As any of the mission helpers to Nepal could tell you, none of our feet looked particularly beautiful. Blisters and irritated skin had formed due to my sandal straps, dirt and mud caking every section of skin where the straps were not. And on top of that, my feet were covered dark, dried blood as a result of leeches latching on to hitch a ride. And if the sight wasn’t bad enough, the smell was certain to warn any local that we were coming.
While we were busy staring mouths agape at the scenery, God was looking at the beauty of our feet. He says, “Because of the message you carry, even your feet are more beautiful than these mountains.”
And yet God says, “How beautiful … are the feet.” Clearly the feet themselves were not beautiful, rather God lists a different reason for their beauty. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” It was the Gospel! While we were busy staring mouths agape at the scenery, God was looking at the beauty of our feet. He says, “Because of the message you carry, even your feet are more beautiful than these mountains.” What an astounding thing to say!
And the Gospel being preached was the true treasure and still is the true treasure in Nepal. As hundreds of people, including Hindus and Buddhists, packed into small church buildings to hear the white people speak, God’s good news of salvation, His glad tidings of peace were being proclaimed. Even those of different religions who had never heard the name of Jesus- for them He had died in order to pay for their sins. He came down with the people of Nepal in mind, just as He kept you and me in His mind during His life and death. And now, in the hearts of those who had never heard this news, the Holy Spirit was working. What a beautiful sight to behold!
As we left, every one of us was sad to depart that beautiful land. Yet, with great joy each one of us could think about our feet – the very feet that God had used to carry to thousands in Nepal the message of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death. No greater joy exists than knowing that God is at work, even across the world, and He even uses muddy, bloody feet to accomplish that work. I pray that He continues to bless the efforts of our brothers and sisters in Nepal, and that He would guide more of you to return there with His saving message.