Taking Jesus at His Word

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“I have slipped out of a prayer meeting when basins came out … ”

By Musu Taylor-Lewis | Twitter: @mercycanada

Sometimes I wish I were more willing to take Jesus at his Word.

I wish I didn’t take so much time to think about his words as much as I take time to act on what he has said. Last Saturday I had one of those moments again where I found myself wondering why it had taken me so long to do something Jesus had clearly asked his followers to do.

Last Saturday, Mercy Ministries staff spent half a day together. In a 24-hour program there are not a lot of opportunities for us to get together as one unified team. Some work through the nights and are there for a young woman who may be having trouble sleeping; daytime and evening staff take the residents through the structured worship-counselling-chores-meals-class time of the day; weekend staff are there for outings and less structured days, and administrative staff keep all the details of running the home working together. Each one doing their part to help bring healing to troubled souls.

Nicola and Rachelle, Executive and Program directors at Mercy Canada, planned the whole day. They wouldn’t tell us what to expect, so we all arrived with very little idea of what we were going to do, except knowing that we were going to be pampered. We started with a light breakfast and then moved on to an exercise that demonstrated how each of us fit together beautifully, necessary pieces in a  whole picture. All of this took place with soothing instrumental music in the background. So far, so good. I was completely in my comfort zone. Then Rachelle explained what we were going to do next and I froze for a split second at her words:

“We are going to wash one another’s feet.”

I don’t even think I was listening too closely as she read the familiar passage from the gospel of John. I was too busy thinking, “Oh, no!” It’s the same reaction I’ve had every time I’ve been in a setting where someone decided to act on Jesus’ clear words after he washed his disciples’ feet.

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

I love that picture of servanthood! I have analysed it and can speak very clearly about the symbolic meaning of what Jesus did that day and how we … no, how I need to serve like he did that day. Yet I have always reacted like Peter did to the idea of having my feet washed: “… you are going to wash my feet!!?”

“Never!”

To avoid this directive, I have made myself too busy to attend a service where I knew in advance we’d be putting this into practice. I have slipped out of a prayer meeting when basins came out, and I have busied myself helping in the church kitchen to avoid participating in any wash-my-feet-and-I’ll wash-yours activities. I can’t quite tell you all the reasons why I have found this too uncomfortable to do before, all I know is that this time there was no subtle way out.

Now I’m grateful there was no way out.

If I had a way out again, I would have missed out on another opportunity for an intimate, vulnerable, mutual demonstration of service to each other. I would have missed a tangible reminder that we journey together as followers of Jesus, I would not have had my heart softened to share easily about myself with the rest of the team, and I would have missed having to ask the Spirit for help in praying for a co-worker who I don’t know too well and to have her pray for me.

No amount of reading, analysing and understanding of Jesus’ words, could replace the blessed, tenderness of experiencing that moment.

As I read the familiar passage today, I really wish I were more willing to take Jesus at his word, because now I notice something he said that I had never noticed before. He ends with these words: “Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”

I never saw the need to actually follow through on this particular teaching. If I had been more willing to take Jesus at his Word, I would have experienced sooner the blessing of doing so.

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My dear SheLoves friends:

  • Has someone every washed your feet?
  • Have you?
  • If yes, do you remember the experience? What lingers?

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About Musu:

My life is lived out of the calling “to advance Christ-centred work.” I am currently Director of Marketing and Development at Mercy Ministries, working to get the word out about the life-transforming work that takes place here. Prior to my work at Mercy, I directed a Crisis Pregnancy Centre, studied Christianity and Culture at Regent College and co-led women’s programs at my local church. I have four great children and am married to Steven, a gift to me from the Creator.

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