Yes, Those Feet, Too.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”  

John 13:14-15

My week-long trip to Nicaragua (http://maryfelkins.com/blog/never-ending-plastic-bowls/) to serve with The Hope Project (www.thehopeprojectinternational.org) at the end of April had our team performing hands-on, practical help throughout the various communities of Matagalpa.

For me, the most impactful outreach opportunity was when we washed the feet of hundreds (being serious here) of people, young and old, before giving them a new pair of shoes. For most, the pair they wore upon arrival were the only shoes they owned.

And to think I get irritated when I stare at my collection of flip flops and flats and, darn, if I can’t decide which will best match my outfit 🙁

#firstworldprobs

Before slipping on those new shoes — and with the assistance of an interpreter — I asked each person who sat in a chair opposite me, if they knew why I wanted to wash their feet. 

Most shrugged. A few understood. No one refused the foot washing.

Hovering over a large plastic bowl of soapy water, washcloth in hand, I explained that, as Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, humbled Himself to wash the (filthy) feet of His disciples, so I was there to wash his or her feet.

As a Jesus-follower, I am to emulate Him. 

And Jesus washed feet.

Blessings come to those who do this.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:17

In a word, it took humility. Both for me to serve in this way and for them to receive.

But there were no personal relationships on the line here. The risk of rejection was minimal. None of my foot-washing recipients had the ability to unfriend, unfollow, not ‘like’ my status, or send me a nasty email detailing my transgressions.

Then I returned to the States.

In less than 48 hours, the name and face of one with whom I’d experienced conflict emerged inside my brain.

The Lord tapped me on the shoulder and, whispering the Spirit’s breath, said, “What about those feet? Would you wash them, too?”

“You can’t be serious,” I shot back, imagining the impossible.

“I Am,” came His response.

So I thought about it. Agonized over what God was truly asking me to do here.

After a few days of pondering over the foot-washing thing, I heard Him ask, “Are you willing?

“Yes, Lord. Ever so willing.” And I meant it.

“Then maintain a servant’s heart and be willing.”

When this particular name and face comes to mind now, I stop to wonder if things are hard. Does he/she need prayer or is he/she facing a challenge? How’s his/her health, family, or financial situation? 

And I wash his/her feet in prayer, feeling, in that moment, the weight of our differences lift.

It’s not for me to be selective in whose feet I wash, whether figuratively or literally.

Without compromising healthy relational boundaries, I must remain willing, keeping the attitude of a servant toward others.

Because, quite often, my feet could stand a pretty thorough washing, too.

If you hesitate when God tells you to do a thing, you endanger your standing in grace.

O. Chambers.

4 Comments

  1. Margaret Eomurian says:

    I bet the people whose feet you washed will not forget that experience.thanks for sharing.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      I did wonder if the Lord might one day cause them to remember the event at some point in their life when they need to be reminded of His love. I hope so!

  2. Oh, Mary, what a tangible practice of forgiveness! We can’t be angry with someone and humble ourselves to wash their feet. This challenges me.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Yes. Tough teaching. I’ve had to repeat the phrase “wash her/his feet” several times when my path crosses with the one with whom there has been conflict.

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