Traffic zipped behind my friend as we slurped down our icy Sonic slushies. I tossed a golden tatter tot in my mouth as she explained, “Yesterday, after work, I did something I thought I’d never do.”
I grabbed another warm tot and dipped it in ketchup as I politely countered, “And what was that?”
“I washed Lisa’s feet.”
“What? Why?” Stunned, I stumbled over my words as she continued to share her heart’s desire to humble herself and serve our boss at work. Well, there are two people I would never wash the feet of. The second I thought it, my gut ached from the punch. Oh, crap. Do I have to, Lord?
The temperature hovered in the 90s as I led our summer program at the school that I taught. A large metal bowl of cool water and a small white towel were hidden in an empty classroom close to the entrance door. Nervously, I waited for the first person whom I had so quickly and easily judged as un-washable to come to pick up her child. An extremely large woman in Goodwill hand-me-downs, overbearing and irritating, a single mom living on food stamps day-to-day, this was the woman I awaited. She swung the door wide open. For a second, with thoughts of retreat, I stepped back but then pushed forward and extended my hand.
“I need you to come with me, please.” Her normally chattering lips pressed tightly as her eyebrows arched into an inquiry. “It’s OK. Nothing’s wrong. I just need you to step in here for a few minutes before getting your daughter.” I slowly opened the door and invited her into the empty classroom.
“What’s this about?” She stuttered as her eyes widened at the sight of the single chair, bowl, and towel.
“I need to show you how much the Father loves you,” I simply stated. As she removed her worn sneakers and sweaty socks, I gently caressed each foot separately, pouring the refreshing water over her red, swollen ankle, and then patted each foot dry.
“God loves you, my friend. He loves your daughter. He sees what you are going through. He cares about you.” Over and over, my words poured over her, blessing, healing. She wept. Her tears and snot ran together as I handed her a tissue.
After I finished, she hugged me. “Thank you. No one has ever done anything like that for me before.”
My task was not yet complete that day. I knew my co-worker would arrive any minute to pick up her paycheck, so I quickly cleaned up things, put out a fresh towel, and refilled the bowl. I dreaded the next encounter more than the first, for inwardly, I detested this woman’s attitude.
Multiple times the past school year, she had burst into the sanctuary of my classroom after hours to complain about how I treated her son. She manipulated. She controlled. She threatened. She made my life miserable that year. I hate confrontation, yet she pushed me into it often.
I’ll be with you. The small voice whispered inside.
But, Lord, she may use this against me. I countered.
Trust Me. Just trust Me. I took a deep breath as she bulldozed through the glass entry in a flurry of a rush. Reluctantly, I again offered my hand and a gesture toward the classroom door.
“I need to do something.” As I said the words, she began to protest, but curiosity won over. She entered the room and sat down. Bewilderment crept over her face. “God asked me to wash your feet. Please let me do this.”
“Oh, my little foot washer,” she teased as I cringed. But then, she relented.
“You don’t feel like anyone values you here, but you are extremely valuable. You think no one sees your pain and loss over your husband, all the time and energy you have put into caring for him and your children, but God sees. He loves you, and He cares.” Again, I poured the water over her feet and gently washed each one.
She just sat there motionless, staring at me. Quickly, she hugged me as we parted, simply whispering, “Thank you.”
That next year, she was honored “Teacher of the Year,” and we became friends. No one else ever knew about the foot washing that so cleansed my judgmental crud.
I’ve heard it said recently, “Obedience has to look like something.” Yes. Yes. It does. Obedience must look a lot like love. A lot like Jesus. It’s a lot like laying down your right to be right. It’s a lot like picking up your cross and following Him. It’s a lot like losing your life to find life in Him. It’s a lot like 1 Cor 13.
If obedience doesn’t look like love, then we may be obeying the wrong spirit. 1 John 4 (TPL) explains this perfectly. You test the spirits by this, “Those who are loved by God, let His love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of Him. The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love… This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him. It was His love, not ours. He proved it by sending His Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins. Delightfully loved ones, if He loved us with such tremendous love, then ‘loving one another’ should be our way of life.”
In verse 20, it goes on to say that “Anyone can say, ‘I love God,’ yet have hatred toward another believer. This makes him a phony, because if you don’t love your brother or sister, whom you can see, how can you truly love God, whom you can’t see? For He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.”
My dear friends, if our obedience doesn’t start and end with what Jesus said was the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind. And the second is this, Love your neighbor as yourself,” then we need to question our hearts. Who are we obeying after all?
It’s time to pick up our towels and wash some stinkin’ feet.
This is an updated edition of a post that was originally published on wholeheartedwomen.org
Featured Image by Pixabay