June 4, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Rebecca Ingram Powell, Author, Director 2004 Proverbs 31 Ministries Writers' Track
"Peter persisted, 'You're not going to wash my feet - ever!'
Jesus said, 'If I don't wash you, you can't be part of what I'm doing.'" John 13:8 (Message)
"I want to be by Nana!" Derek called as we filed into the pew one Sunday. We were visiting my parents and attending church with them. We settled into our seats comfortably, five-year-old Derek obviously pleased with the acquisition of the coveted spot beside his grandmother. All smiles, Derek snuggled in as close as he could beside Nana. Then he decided it wasn't close enough. "I want to be in Nana," he declared, climbing into her lap.
I was reminded of the scene at the Last Supper, when Jesus removed his outer garment and, assuming the role of servant, began to wash the disciples' feet. Did you know only moments before, the disciples had been arguing among themselves as to "which of them was considered to be greatest" (Luke 22:24, NIV). They each wanted the seat beside the Master! The Messiah Himself, the only truly Great One, quietly rose from the table and began to teach them once again, not with a verbal rebuke, but with a living picture they would never forget.
Then he [Christ] poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, "Master, you wash my feet?"
Jesus answered, "You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later."
Peter persisted, "You're not going to wash my feet - ever!"
Jesus said, "If I don't wash you, you can't be a part of what I'm doing."
"Master!" said Peter. "Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!" (John 13:5-9 The Message).
Have you ever washed someone's feet? There's nothing glamorous about it. Feet stink. Feet are dirty. In New Testament times, foot-washing was an act of hospitality. Guests in one's home were treated to this kindness by the servants of the house. I'm sure it was quite refreshing to be pampered in this way after traveling on those dusty roads - refreshing for the one who received the pampering, that is. It was grunge work for the servant who was duty-bound to perform the task. Peter was absolutely stunned that Christ was putting Himself in this position of servitude, and he wanted no part of it.
In this holy moment, Peter's initial reaction was to resist, shaking his head: No. Not me. Not you, Lord. Holiness had confronted humanness, and it presented a paradox to this man--this man so like the rest of us. Peter - Joe Everybody - was about to get his feet washed by the very One who made his feet, and he could scarcely take it in. I imagine it was just too bizarre.
In an effort to bring him back to his senses, Christ presents Peter with an ultimatum: Either I wash your feet or you're not mine. It's time for you to make a decision. Until you do, we can't go any further in our relationship.
My husband Rich tells the story of when he was a college student, living in a fraternity house - away from home and away from the Lord. God spoke to Rich's heart one night. In the quiet stillness of the midnight hour, God confronted Rich with clear-cut conviction. "Rich," He whispered, "some of these other guys living here, they don't know any better. But you - you do." Rich utterly believes that he received an ultimatum from God that night. He knew it was time to make a decision.
In a way, I think that may have been what was going on for Peter in that holy moment. It was time to make a decision. And being Peter, he plunged in. If that's the way it is, dear Lord, let's do it all the way.
Jesus came to serve. He came to offer a grace that was undeserved. Are you washed from head to toe? Forgiven completely? Praise God! Daily, however, we need to allow Him to wash the dust from our feet - the filth accumulated from simply walking around on planet Earth. It's our daily walk that will tell whether we are beside Him or in Him. Have you reached the point in your Christian life where you're longing for a closer walk with God? Perhaps you feel as though you're scooting closer and closer to Him, but you're still not where you long to be. It could be time for you to make a decision. Plunge in! He's calling you to a deeper walk with Him.
My prayer for today:
Dear Father, it's time. I cannot waffle back and forth any longer. I want to be sold out and completely committed to life with you. I will make the sacrifices. I'll give up the nasty habits and unholy things that are keeping me from total surrender. I want to plunge in to a deeper walk with You.
Ask God to reveal to you what is keeping you from a deeper walk. Get ready! It may call for action on your part.
Is there a broken relationship in your life? Unforgiveness and bitterness toward another person can keep you from a right relationship with God.
Have you been neglecting the daily study of God's Word? This is where you'll find your power for living! Rearrange your schedule in order to put God first. Even ten minutes will make a difference in your life.
It can be scary to think about plunging in to the deep end. What are you afraid of? Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you why you are holding back.
Revelation 3:20 Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. (Message)
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (NIV)
Jeremiah 29:13 "Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
Matthew 7:13 Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with sure-fire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention. (Message)
Revelation 3:15-16 I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
Originally published Friday, 04 June 2004.