The Lord Jesus reminded me this morning of a writing he gave me 10 years ago. It encouraged my heart this morning to read it again. I hope it will encourage yours.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I spent the day today in VA/WV. My husband Rick’s employer, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, sponsors regular mission trips to Bradshaw, WV. This was their big annual mission trip and it was my first mission trip ever, I think. So, I had no expectations. I just wanted to serve the Lord.
We arrived last night and enjoyed dinner and fellowship with a group of about 50 volunteers who came here just because they love Jesus. The Lord worked it out that we invited a married couple from NC to ride to dinner with us – a couple we had not met previously, and we ended up eating dinner with them and fellowshipping with them and with a man from Ohio. Their excitement for the Lord was very apparent.
We all met for devotions this morning before traveling to the mission site. The options for ministry were listed. There was one that was planned evangelism – where I would have the opportunity to share the gospel with people one on one. There was only one catch – I had to wash people’s feet. It just so happened that this is the ministry group that this couple was a part of.
Now, I am not a foot person. I don’t generally touch people with my feet, I don’t like to have anyone touch my feet and I don’t touch other people’s feet, except for maybe my grandchildren’s. So, this was going to stretch me, but I figured I could use the dose of humility – can’t we all?
This ministry group who was washing people’s feet was also supplying them with new socks and shoes, so the first thing we did was to unbox the shoes, remove papers from inside them, etc. so they were ready to be placed on people’s feet. They asked for the first four volunteers to wash people’s feet, but since I had never done anything like that before, I wanted to watch first. So, I went and observed. I listened to see what kinds of things they said, how they approached the gospel, and just in general how they did the service of foot washing.
The man in charge walked in and asked me if I was ready to begin washing feet yet but I told him I would just serve as prayer support for right now. I just wasn’t ready to get my feet wet. Then, I talked with the Lord about it. I said, “Lord, you talk with me all the time. Let me know what you want me to do.”
The Lord immediately gave me this verse:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Co. 5:17-18).
Immediately the Lord plugged into my mind that washing people’s feet and giving them new shoes to wear symbolized the truth of this passage of scripture. Then, I knew I was ready.
So, I sat down on the stool to wash the first person’s feet. It was a man. I imagined that this was going to be difficult for me, but the Lord just took over and it was amazing because when I was talking about Jesus to people and washing their feet, it really felt how I had imagined many times over in my mind that I was Mary washing Jesus’ feet with my tears and my hair. Now, I was his hands and his feet and his voice, too, to these people who came to get a new pair of shoes. And, I really did not even think twice about washing their feet. It was as though I had always done it, like the Lord just took over my hands.
I found this a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with people. First off, I don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it or because it is the thing to do. So, I asked myself, “Why are we doing this? What is its purpose? What does it mean?” Since I wondered that myself, I figured other people might have the same question, so I began by asking them if they knew why we were doing this.
Some people knew it was an act of humility and servanthood and that Jesus had set an example for us when he washed the feet of his disciples. I knew that, too. Others didn’t know and still others saw it as a religious ritual that they did at communion but really didn’t know why they did it. But, the Lord gave me a picture, not only of servanthood and humility, but of the gospel message.
He helped me to see that just as people came in there with dirty feet and needed to have their feet cleansed, many of them also came in there with dirty hearts. We are all born with dirty hearts (born into sin) and we need to have our hearts cleansed just like we were washing their feet. Also, just as they removed their old shoes (or we removed them for them) and we put new shoes on them after we washed their feet, the Lord has provided the way that we can have our old dirty hearts removed and we can leave there not only with new shoes, but with new hearts.
I saw the symbolism of new shoes to be really interesting from another viewpoint, too, and that is that shoes are made for walking, so when the Lord cleanses our hearts and gives us new hearts, they are like new shoes – they are made for walking. In other words, He gives us a new walk. He doesn’t save us just so we can go to heaven one day, though that is certainly a wonderful promise, but he saves us to give us a new walk, i.e. a new direction in life; a new life period.
Also, another thing stood out to me. No one could have clean feet or new shoes just by standing there and believing that they had clean feet or new shoes. They had to humble themselves, sit down, remove their old shoes (or we removed them), put their feet in the water and allow us to put new shoes on their feet. So, this was faith in action. It showed them that faith is action, not just words or a state of mind, but we have to come to the Lord and we have to humble ourselves and bow before him and allow him to remove our old hearts, to cleanse us and to give us new hearts. That, to me, is awesome!! But, it all begins with the Father drawing them first. They also could not have clean feet and new shoes if we had not showed up and we had not invited them to come in and to receive this cleansing and these new shoes.
I could see in the looks of some of the people that the Holy Spirit was drawing them to himself, but at least three of the ones I spoke with have said they are not ready. One young lady said she knows God is calling her and is drawing her to himself and I could see it in her eyes, yet she still would not give her heart to Jesus. It broke my heart. Jesus is calling so many to himself, but they just aren’t ready, like I wasn’t ready to wash their feet until the Lord spoke to my heart and said “the old has gone and the new has come,” and then I knew I was ready. But, I still had to say “yes.” I pray that the people whose feet we washed today will say “yes” to Jesus because they got to see Jesus in action today through the lives of these ministers of HIS.
Sunday, October 14, 2007 – Rick and I were on our way home from WV/VA and we were listening to my Avalon CD when the song New Day played. Rick said, “That sounds like your foot washing,” and I agreed. Here is the chorus:
It’s a new day
Oh, it’s a new time
And there’s a new way
I’m gonna live my life
All the old has, passed away
And the new has come
Thank God, It’s a brand new day
The Lord gave me one more illustration from my foot washing experience which is based upon this statement that I made above:
They asked for the first four volunteers to wash people’s feet, but since I had never done anything like that before, I wanted to watch first. So, I went and observed. I listened to see what kinds of things they said, how they approached the gospel, and just in general how they did the service of foot washing.
Just as I observed the washers to make sure they were the real thing, that they were presenting the real gospel of Jesus Christ, and that they weren’t just going through a religious ritual before I would join them, unbelievers are also watching our lives to see if we are the real thing or if we are just going through the motions before they will make that decision to say “yes” to Jesus. So, it is really important that they see that Jesus is everything to us (Everything to Me / Avalon):
We’re living in uncertain times
And more and more I find that I’m aware
Of just how fragile life can be
I want to tell the world I found
A love that turned my life around
They need to know that they can taste and see
Now everyday I’m praying
Just to give my heart away
I want live for Jesus
So that someone else might see that he is…
Everything to me
He’s more than a story
more than words on a page of history
He’s the air that I breathe
The water I thirst for
And the ground beneath my feet
He’s everything, everything to me