Sunday, February 17, 2008

Send The Foot-Washers!

Recently (say the last 6 weeks or so),
Several things, incidents, conversations, observations
have brought out an irritability in me.
Yesterday in my quiet time, I was basically "mully-grubbing"
about these things. Because they were all of a similar nature,
and were all underneath my skin.
I wasn't at all happy with the feelings it brought out in me.
These things happened to be occurrences within my church family,
which I do love.
And I am committed to this congregation.
But, in any family, you go through these things,
transition, growing pains, etc.
I think we really miss the boat,
when we think fallen (though redeemed) people,
will be able to never let us down.
On the contrary I think God does some of His best work in us,
when we overcome differences, show mercy, and love the unlovely
(and we're all unlovely at times, let's face it!).
In other words, He likes to stretch us! Mold us. Refine us.
Move us OUT of our self-imposed comfort zone,
where we like everybody, and everybody likes us,.
and we never have to go anywhere or do anything uncomfortable.
Church family, is just like your family that you're born to, and married into.
You love them. You bleed when they are cut, cry when they are hurt,
and celebrate their successes.
And JUST like that VERY SAME family,
you get frustrated with them, and they with you!

These things that were bringing out the "unlovely" in me,
should just fuel my prayers.
And I AM working on that.
But, more to the truth of it, yesterday in my quiet time,
I was just a little disgusted and disheartened,
both at myself for feeling the way I did, and at the situations themselves.
But God is so cool!
There is something I have occasionally felt impressed in my prayer time
in the last 3-5 months to pray about.
And to be truthful, I didn't completely understand it, but, since it was Biblical, I did.
It was generally always when I prayed at church. I remember the first time.
Send the Foot-Washers, Lord
Send the Foot-Washers
Help us
Let Your Spirit teach us to be Foot-Washers
Well, somehow as I was whining, I mean to say talking with the Lord,
about this yukky stuff in my head and heart,
SOMEHOW He was able to get through to me,
to connect the dots between this and the Foot-Washers.
As I pondered this, wondering how it fit,
I could almost feel the hint of a wry question,
like "OOOO-OOO I Know!
How 'bout you read about it in the Bible!
You know, instead of just remembering it!
Maybe there's something there you've never noticed!
I mean when is the last time you actually read it,
and paid attention with new eyes to it!"
What a novel idea! Sometimes I wonder about myself!
So I did.
I thought I would share my observations wth you.
Because I don't see anything we are going through as unique.
The Word say our trials are not unique,
but we all have these things in common.
I believe we can look at how the 12 Disciples behaved at the Last Supper,
and see a glimpse of the Body of Christ today.
Where I attend and serve, and where you attend and serve.
First of all, there was a betrayer in the midst. Judas.
Every group has one. Judas was more concerend about money.
The Gospel of John shows that.
We can explore more about him another day.
There was a concern about who would be greatest among them.
The disciples closest to Jesus were involved in this.
THIS is the part that gets me. And I shouldn't let it.
If the disciples did it, we will too!
If it bothers me so much, that probably means I'm guilty of it, too!
which REALLY just makes me want to throw my hands in the air!
"Jesus knowing
that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he was come from God,
and went to God;
He riseth from supper,
and laid aside his garments;
and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason,
and began to wash the disciples' feet,
and to wipe them with the towel
wherewith he was girded."
John 13:3-5
I love what Jesus' solution was though.
He put aside His garments.
The verse actually says he laid them aside.
Deliberately.
To lay them aside, to me, represents something significant.
Our clothes are such a large part of our identity,
how we are viewed by others.
He laid that aside.
I love that this is after verse 3,
which shows us that He KNEW WHO He was.
He KNEW where He was headed.
And He put that aside, to minister to their needs.
He was not too puffed up.
(I know that sounds horrible to be saying about Our Jesus),
but, He IS our example.
He took the time, He didn't consider this humble,
dirty teaching opportunity, beneath Him.
When He girded Himself with the towel,
He really tied it on firmly,
from what I could see in the Strong's Concordance.
Which shows a determination.
A Determination which I'm sadly waffling on lately.
So, I am going to be submitting to some heart surgery.
Wish me luck!
"So after he had washed their feet,
and had taken his garments, and was set down again,
he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet;
ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example,
that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
The servant is not greater than his lord;
neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
John 13:12-17
Lord, I really truly do not like people who are more concerend with being recognized as a leader, or close to the people they perceive to be at the top of the heap. I don't think that's love. I don't like when people are being shrewd and calculating and having all sorts of negative opinions, in the name of input.
And above all, Lord, I don't like how this behavior makes me feel and think,
and makes me want to withdraw.
You didn't make me to be a quitter.
And you sure didn't make me to be a judge.
You made me to be a foot-washer.
You made me to love. You made me to serve.
I am willing, Lord to be changed, please change me, change my heart.
Help me to pray correctly.
Help me to surrender my viewpoints on this and get my eyes on You,
and off of everyone else!
Forgive me for getting it all out of whack. Make me clean.
Help us to all be connected to You and to each other in a good, and Godly way.
So that the lost and the hurt will see the good that we do and give glory to YOU!

15 comments:

luvmy4sons said...

I sense something much deeper going on here within you. I sense that you are cloaking your words, which is necessary my friend at times, I realize. But know that I am praying. I think maybe I might understand here what is being said between the lines. Maybe. Praying for you. I know that your heart is willing and that God will do a mighty work within you, through you for His glory!

freetofly said...

Leslie, You are such a comfort! Thank you for your prayers, and your insight! I've made some changes to it. Now I feel more at peace with this post. More at peace in general. I'm Ok, as long as I just keep my eyes on Him right now!

Thanks my friend!
Maria

Regina said...

Awesome post, thanks for sharing. I'm sure that you are not alone, in fact this is something that we all go through. I try to remember that we are all just human but there are times when it is very hard to remember this! You are right if the disciples wen through issues and trials and Jesus physically was with them than why shouldn't we expect to go through the same?
Peace & Love.

Sharon Brumfield said...

Family can be the greatest growth tool that God uses in our lives.
He has used them so much to teach me to keep my eyes on Him.
The thing that got me in this story is that Jesus washed the feet of the one who--had already betrayed Him in the past(stole money)and would betray Him again.
If He can lovingly wash the feet of the one like this---I can also continue to wash the feet of those who are out to degrade and hurt the body of Christ.
About a week ago I posted about a woman at our church who has been a constant problem for about a year. There were times when my guts were being ripped out. I keep waiting for God to let me move on. And yet He told me to keep loving her.
This past week she got up in front of the church and apologized for the way she had been treating me. And today she brought me up in front of the church for our pastor to pray that nothing would again come in to hinder what God was doing between us.
Are my guards totally lowered. No. Will I continue to love her--yes.
I guess I feel like a tool in the hands of God. If I am willing to stand in discomfort and sometimes pain--He can use it as a mirror to people.
Wish I could share more details.

Have you ever attended a real foot washing?
We are a former Baptist church as of a few months ago. But the first time I attended one at our church I felt God breaking my heart for my sisters. As I knelt in front of the women and held their foot in my hand--my heart changed in a way I can not explain. It was humbling.
We are getting ready to do it again. Sitting in the chair having your feet washed makes you want to say--get up, don't do that I am not worthy. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to have had Jesus do it. Goodness. I don't think I would have been able to speak through the sobbing.

Whenever you are in leadership it can be rough. I encourage you to let the sandpaper continue to make you smooth. ;) Sounds like He is teaching you some good things by allowing them to provoke you. He has taught me this way often in the past.
If this is what is coming out of it--keep on keeping on!!!!!!
love ya girl

Sharon Brumfield said...

Wow-sorry that was so long.

luvmy4sons said...

Maria...I can hear your heart in the changes...how it aches that you would even remotely sit in judgement on another brother or sister in Christ because you know that you yourself are so full of wrong thoughts and wrong attitudes. I hear the sincere desire to be a foot washer and to be more concerned with who you are before Christ than looking at who someone else appears to be to you. We must all remember that man judges the outward appearance and only God can judge a heart. Church is family, and love is messy. I so appreciate your honesty and your obvious and sincere desire to make your heart right and let God do His work. I love the commitment you show forth to the body, realizing that no matter where you go the body will always fall short, for we are but sinners saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves. To God and God alone be all the glory! Amen, dear sister. Big hug!

Mel's World said...

Maria,

I can feel your struggle...its almost like a wrestling match inside your body, isn't it? You don't want to think these things and yet you do. You want to only worry about yourself and the ministry that God has planned out for you, but other people (ah man, you gotta love them, but sometimes they can make you nuts, right?) can distract you, frustrate you, and totally knock you off course.

Stay the course my friend. God is doing a mighty ministry through you and there is nothing that would make the evil one more happy than to have one of God's chosen children distracted by what "other people are doing". Believe me, I know.

I have been the brunt of other people's misconduct, bad ideas, and their own self promotion...all along I prayed (see my post today) and kept reaching after what God called ME to do in HIS church.

I have some bumps, bruises, and even some lacerations from it all but I know that it has become another battle scar and when you fight for Him it is ALL worth it!

Stay strong my friend...praying for you!

xoxo,
Melissa ;)

Denise said...

Stay strong my friend. I am lifting you up in my prayers, keep on fighting the good fight.

Ally said...

I could so feel what you are saying here and understand your frustrations both within and without. It truely is a freeing thing (free..to fly...) when we don´t get in the rat race of impressing anyone and just do as Jesus did. Just the other day I was grumbling in my self about a situation and in me was nothing that I was proud about. Serving others I believe is a real gift to release us from the tyranny of being somebody! It´s a way out of the cage and into the presence of God.... I am so glad that I have had time to visit you this morning. I love you and your transparency and your gift to expose the real battles!!!

Tiffany said...

Oh Maria,
Thank you for putting "pride" aside and for allowing yourself to be willing and humble enough to share honestly! Those of us who know you well, and know your heart can read b/w the lines and know exactly where you are comming from... and as hard as it is to admit have been there ourselves! It is so easy for us to stand in judgement of others (especially when we've been personally wronged!) It is so easy for us to cry- pharisee, hypocrite!- even if it is only in our hearts. But, the Lord has a way of humbling us with His Love and Mercy for us as well as others! I love it when He changes our hearts and attitudes towards people and circumstances that we alone could and would never do ourselves! It sets us free, in an almost magical way! And for those that just happen upon your blog, I think it is important for us to be painfully honest sometimes (in a respectful way of course)- so that others that see us and think she is so spiritual, so close to God, so above it all- can see as you have said- we are all human, full of mistakes, still struggle w/ our minds, emotions and actions - and shouldn't be put on any pedistal, because the good you see is God- not us! Ya know?! Strong work, sister! - I am sooo w/ you all the way on this! Blessings!

quance said...

I understand churchy petty irritating stuff. I am glad you have decided to work through it. Everyone goes through it. Stay committed to your congregation. Most peoples answer is to just leave and go somewhere else instead of dealing with the issues. Many times the issues are with the person that is so irritated. (I am not speaking of you. I don't even know you or your situation) I have just seen many people come and go. You think they are friends and that you have a real relationship with them and poof! they just disappear. (so to speak) There are so many churches in this country so its easy to just go somewhere else instead of looking within your own heart to see where the problem might be.

freetofly said...

Hi, Regina! You are so right! Thanks for your encouragement!

Sharon, You know I beleive I did when I was a child in the Catholic faith. And it was good to be exposed to that an early age. But I didn't "get" it of course at that time. And as an adult. I don't think I have. I am sure it would be powerful.

I'm really sorry for all that you have had to endure where you're at. I know that pressing and heat are always for rich products, for beauty, quality and power. So, though it may come as small consolation in the middle of the process, at least you know it IS not wasted!

Thank you so much for your friendship and kind thoughts, and for sharing the pain you have been through, so that others can be encouraged.

Leslie, Yes, He is getting through to me! :) I just needed to tune in! Tune in to Him and tune out to the rest! I needed to come up higher to a different vantage point! Thanks as always for believing in me & being a great friend!

Melissa, so kind of you to take time to share from your pain to encourage me! Thank you for all that you said! It meant the world to me! I'm truly sorry to hear of the scars you and your family are wearing. And I know they will not be wasted!

Denise, thanks so much! Your prayers and encouragement mean so much!

Ally, you have such a winning way with words! Look at this, "when we don´t get in the rat race of impressing anyone and just do as Jesus did" & "Serving others I believe is a real gift to release us from the tyranny of being somebody! It´s a way out of the cage and into the presence of God" You should make a post out of that, my friend!

Beautiful & powerful! Thank YOU!

Tiff, I sent you an e-mail. You are so right about the whole humbling thing! Imagine my chagrin, when I started out seeking Him about this discomfort & angst, only to discover it was much more important to deal with things in ME! LOL! It's like the little school house saying - for every finger you point at someone, there are three pointing back at you! His grace & mercy are just...shocking!! ;)

Quance, you are right. Our culture is entirely too quick to pull up stakes, not that there aren't cases that warrant it. But, not near as many as what occurs. We miss out on so much that way. Can't say I haven't been tempted many times. But, I have learned and continue to seek to learn, that good things ALWAYS come after these sorts of funks and battle skirmishes! AND I DO NOT want to miss out on that! Thanks!


To ALL: You have once again blessed me outrageously. You ladies, ROCK the House!

Hope your Monday is a fabulous one!
xoxo,
Maria

Carole said...

One of the things my particular denomination does is wash feet on Maundy Thursday. So I have always loved footwashing, it is my favorite part of Easter. I have done it since I was 4 which was fifty years ago. I have seen people who hate each other restored through this simple act of kneeling and washing each other's feet. I wonder if you would mind if I printed this devotional and read it to my women before our foot washing service this year?

freetofly said...

Carole, I would be honored if you thought it might help someone. You are completely welcome to. I am still learning from this whole thing! I reckon that really never ends though! :)

I love that you all do the foot washing. I would love to see our ladies group have such a service.

xoxo,
Maria

Carole said...

Thank you ma'am.

What Does it Mean Anyway? "Free to Fly"...

Well, it's like this: Here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Free: a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen b : enjoying civil and political liberty c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself...having a scope not restricted by qualification 7 a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded ...Now, here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Fly:1 a : to move in or pass through the air with wings b : to move through the air or before the wind or through outer space c : to float, wave, or soar in the air ... a : to take flight ...6 : to work successfully ...Examples which apply from Websters: fly high : to be elated - fly in the face of or fly in the teeth of : to stand or act forthrightly or brazenly in defiance or contradiction of

What does this mean in my life? This means that in life we are meant to be free. While historically mankind has not always enjoyed the opportunity to fully appreciate what that means, we are so indescribably fortunate as to live in a time of the greatest spiritual, physical, financial and political freedom ever known. Freedom doesn't come cheap, nor does it come easy. But the best things in life don't come that way do they? As I write this I am struck by how this sounds like a political statement, and for me this is much more of a spiritual thing, but, same goes for that (political that is). Freedom doesn't come easy. And it's worth whatever fight you have to make to overcome in your life in order to live a life that succeeds. Now the questions is - what is success for you? What is your standard? In my mind what is needed is a definite target - because you can't hit and maintain a moving target. A stable, rock-solid, anchor with no variable, yet multi-faceted. Something pure, just and worthy. If you look at any web page of news you can see that our society is certainly lacking in this area. What a great time to live as a rebel! Nowadays to be a rebel, all you have to do is be willing to engage in the battle of life, while anchored to Christ!