I took up reading this book as I was finishing my Teacher Education Program. I knew I would have quite a bit of spare time on my hands through the summer being finished my schooling and recognizing that I was likely not going to be working until September. So I decided on a book that was non-fiction, a subject I’ve been contemplating, struggling with for quite a period of time now and it would ease me out of the life of being a full-time student as I began summer vacation with my kids.
Lately I’ve been thinking about why my life is what it is! Sounds like a deep question right, but honestly it’s not! The last few weeks, in particular the loss of my sweet nephew, the changes happening in my career and schooling, and some changes happening at James’ work, have got me thinking about how my perspective has shifted. It’s little things I notice here and there, nothing major or dramatic but little moments that 2 months ago may have put me over the edge that NOW just cause me to shrug my shoulders and keep plodding forward.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”! For those who do not believe in God or the bible and for those who are struggling in their faith right now those words probably feel like a slap-in-the-face. I acknowledge that because as a believer who feels growth in my relationship with God I too feel like this passage is immensely hard to grasp.
And so the debate continues….Really to my mind such a ridiculous discussion that we have allowed to taint the times we have of praise with scowls and sourpuss faces. Silly expressions, you say? What I find truly remarkable, and even silly, is the type of discord that we allow to filter into our places and times of worship! Hmmm, I guess my inside voice just snuck out:( It makes me sad watching different generations react to certain genres of music with distain and dislike. The thing is that we’re all guilty of it to some degree…if we’re really honest there have been times when we’ve sat in a service with our hands crossed like a small child, mad because we didn’t get our way. I’ve watched it…I’ve seen the older fellow across the aisle with his nose turned up at the overly repetitious chorus that “really doesn’t say anything at all”. In the same service I’ve looked on my other side to see the younger person standing with their arms folded and their eyes rolling at the completely “old-fashioned” lyrics to that hymn that “sounds like it dropped right out of the 1800’s”. Heck I’ve even closed my eyes and viciously fought the temptation to plug my ears when the strains of a southern gospel tune hits my eardrums. There is no denying that we all have various tastes in music and our minds process the beauty of notes threaded together in very different ways.
I am desperately trying to catch up on my posts so I will follow this up over the next couple of days with some Christmas posts!
But today I just felt the need to write about the amazing service we had this morning. For some of you who attend you will probably have your own take on the experience and for those who have never participated in “washing feet” it will hopefully trigger a desire to find ways to wash the feet of some unsuspecting individual:)
To start I should give you some background regarding what’s been on my mind as of late…I have been wondering if the job I do makes that much of a difference. It’s not that I don’t believe God is at work in the hearts of children but for those of you have any contact with kids you know that the evidence is so rarely visible that it really makes one wonder what exactly they’re catching. I’ve been doing a study of 1 Samuel and have been so incredibly blessed by the reality of who God is in my personal life so I have not questioned that I am where God wants me but I still so desperately needed some tangible proof that God was using me and today was that day!
Our senior pastor is constantly coming up with great ideas to involve our children (which makes my job so much easier) and his wonderful wife has committed herself to various sundays of assistance in the children’s program. Together their desire to see growth in our children has blessed me in ways they will never know…today as Pastor Tim preached on the passage of scripture where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and how he calls us to “wash the feet of those around us” I was struck by how so many of us do just that but how we could do it so much better.
At the closing of his sermon he asked for a few minutes of quiet and I ran downstairs to get the kids (kindergarten to grade 5), as I had been asked to do. The children came upstairs quietly and walked to the front of the sanctuary to observe on the floor. Although they had not participated in the service I could see their eager, curious stares as Pastor Tim asked 6 youth to come to the front and sit down in the seats set up at the front and put their feet into the basins. He then asked for 6 individuals, who felt led, to come and wash the feet of these youth. I could feel the emotion welling in me as people started to come forward. At this point I knew tears would fall, not just from me but from many people, men and women, who were feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in that moment. The kids watched with attention and curiousity…one precious kindergarten girl, leaned to me and asked, “why is it just the adults who get to do this?”. I offered for her to come with me and wash someone’s feet and in turn have her feet washed but she shied away a bit and shook her head. I let it be and saw that few of the older boys were getting a bit antsy, but it wasn’t that they wanted to go play…they wanted a turn.
I was moved as the children began scooting forward, eager to participate and trying to overcome their hesitation, uncertain if they were really “allowed” to be a part of this beautiful ritual. I sobbed, tears that I can’t really identify, they weren’t sadness or joy or relief, it was more of such an overwhelming feeling of God’s presence that I didn’t really know what else to do. I felt affirmed as my feet were washed (not just with the water but with tears of friendship, love, prayer and heartfelt appreciation) and in that moment the uncertainty of where I am at, was lifted. Then I had the privilege of helping the children as they began to come forward. I washed a pair of feet…I helped as the kindergarten girl, who wasn’t certain before, brought her friend forward and asked if they could wash each other’s feet. The children giggled but weren’t silly…they were moved and in their child-like faith laughed as I’m sure our Father did as He watched these precious little beings worship Him. Siblings began washing feet, mothers were washing the feet of their children and vice versa. I saw grown men swipe tears away from their eyes and others smile with such victory at this simple gesture of love towards their fellow congregants. I was humbled by the expression that this simple ritual was to so many people.
As the service came to a close and I sat at the front listening to the beautiful music I sat with another sweet girl, she is the child of one of my closest friends…I’ve known her since she was 4 and hope to know her for many, many more years. I have been blessed to walk with her mother through the many trials that parenting brings, giving and taking wisdom as God allow us to share it with each other. As with any parent, I know there have been times of pure frustration in parenting this special child but as she sat with me, tears were streaming down her face and she looked up at me and said, “this is so cool”! Again I felt the hand of God placed on my life for that moment in time. I hugged her close and felt such a great joy at the family that I have been blessed with. An immediate family, including a husband who shares my faith, an extended family with a heritage of faith and the family of Christ that will one day reach my children as this particular day reached this child’s heart. I asked her if I could pray with her and she enthusiastically nodded her head. I can honestly say that the words were not my own…the Holy Spirit was with me as I spoke over her and called on Him to bring clarity to who she is, understanding of the gifts He’s given her and protection over her life.
It was such a great morning of reminding for me the power that the Holy Spirit has. It’s not about me…it’s not about what I can accomplish…it’s about being obedient to the call He has placed on my life in this moment of time. To know that when I feel tired, He is strong…when I feel overwhelmed, He is in control…when I feel uncertain, He has a plan. Although, as our pastor pointed out, our culture really doesn’t require the washing of feet, the metaphor can so easily have been transplanted for today’s society. It means putting aside your own needs and desires to meet those of others and “wrapping the towel around your waist” to serve others.
Thank you Lord, for this day that You have made. Let me rejoice and be glad in it!
So I’m reading this amazing book that was recommended to me by a co-worker! I think it’s funny actually because I’ve always been more of a fiction reader but in the last year or so I’ve picked up more than a few non-fiction books and actually finished them.
This one is definitely a little more challenging as far as what I’m going to choose to do with the conviction in my heart to actually follow through with some of the points the author is trying to make. What I love most about this book is the no nonsense approach he has and the truth he speaks. He refers to scripture accurately and asks many of the questions I believe our generation has been thinking for some time now but feel intimidated to ask. His heart is the heart of all Christ-followers who yearn for something more but fear seeking it out and what it will mean. His style of writing is unique in that it’s challenging without holding a tone of condemnation or judgement, as many authors tend to do. He makes me want to seek what God is doing and take part in it and affirms a few ideas that have been purcolating in my mind over the last few months.
I haven’t finished it yet but here are a few snippets that have made me think and laugh all at the same time:
“I’ve seen people gather around and lay hands on the sick. Others anoint people with oil. But when Jesus wants to heal a blind guy, he picks up some dirt off the ground, spits in it, and then wipes it on the dude’s eyes (John 9:6). That’s weird. No one else did that. Can you imagine the other religious leaders? ‘Rabbi, could you hack me up a holy loogie?'” (p.40)
“Rich [Mullins] stood up in chapel and said, ‘You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to a guy too…But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.'” (p. 98-99)
The last comment I’ll share really did strike the deepest nerve for me in my “comfort” level and the sacrifice my Savior has made for me.
“True, the cross is not always seeker sensitive. It is not comfortable. But it is the cornerstone of our faith, and I fear that when we remove the cross, we remove the central symbol of the nonviolence and grace of our Lover. If we remove the cross, we are in danger of promoting a very cheap grace. Perhaps it should make us uncomfortable. After all, it wasn’t so comfy to get nailed there.”
I’m sure I’ll have a few more great quotes to share as I continue reading this book and being challenged. Just a side-note that I have tried to be diligent in picking up the bible first and doing some “straight from the source” reading before returning to this latest find and I’m consistently amazed and inspired that God honors that with words that I need to hear or thoughts that I can journal and reflect on how my life is changing and maturing.
If you want some inspiration for yourself and would rather read everything in context I really encourage you to pick this up and delve into it. It’s called “Irresistable Revolution” by Shane Clairborne. It’s published by Zondervan and copyrighted 2006.