In her book Cracking the Pot, Christine Berghoef writes about a study tour she took to Israel. While there she encountered ibex, an animal similar to North American mountain goat. You hear about them a couple times in the Bible, including when God speaks to Job about his creation. Ms. Berghoef describes them as remarkable creatures with extraordinary feet, able to “scale boulders the size of semi trucks… They trek the cliffs as if they’re the product of some sort of cross-breeding laboratory experiment – perhaps the supernatural combination of Spiderman, a white-tailed deer, and a tree frog” (page 39). It sounds to me like God designed them just right with the ideal feet to thrive in in their mountainous habitat.
With the ibex likely in mind, the prophet Habakkuk confesses,
“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
— He makes my feet like the feet of a deer…”
I’d like to make this my confession, too. To be honest, however, I’d rather ask God to give me an easy path than a pair of good feet to journey down difficult ones. I pray for things to go smoothly without any hassle or trouble.
Observing the ibex, Ms. Berghoef writes: “Perhaps we ought not to pray for an effortless life, but for God to give us the feet we need to traverse the life He continually unfolds before us” (page 39).
I read something similar in a Words of Hope devotional written by an Iowan pastor named Stephen Shaffer: “Even though the road is hard, Habakkuk trusts that God will not let him fall. No matter where his path takes him, he will not slip. He prays that as he walks the path God laid for him, he will walk sure-footed. Habakkuk asks God not to change the road, but to change him.”
Praying for ibex-like feet is not the easiest prayer, but it’s honest about the tough places along the path. It’s also a hope-filled prayer – I can pray it knowing that God answered this prayer for Habakkuk and countless other saints through history.