The day after our first son was born via emergency c-section, my husband washed my hair. I didn’t have the strength or stability to do it by myself. I remember my entire body trembling and using his steadiness to support my wobbly frame.
Extending himself in that selfless act of service is one of the most loving things he’s ever done for me. Whenever I look back on our eight years of marriage, that memory stands out in my mind and warms my heart.
The thing is, if I hadn’t been on the operating table the previous day, I probably never would have accepted his help.
I am stubborn that way. I will serve others until I am bone dry and squelched in spirit, but if I ask for a favor in return I feel needy or indebted.
But we are all needy and indebted, aren’t we? How easily we often deceive ourselves into thinking we are self-sufficient when in fact, we are all beggars in need of grace and mercy.
While our human nature often makes us want to withhold grace, Jesus freely gives it. We need only to ask.
In John 13, Jesus and his disciples are celebrating the last Passover Feast before He will be crucified. Jesus knows what awaits him. He knows he will endure a cruel betrayal, one of his men will deny him three times, and that he will die a painful death while his people mock him.
And yet, despite all of this, he performs an act so selfless and humble that it makes his disciples uncomfortable. He washes their filthy, no doubt foul-smelling feet.
When Peter objects, Jesus says,
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” John 13:8 NIV
I get it, Peter. Really, I do. Here was the Lord of the universe in the flesh, kneeling down and doing something only a house servant would do, willingly and without being asked. How would you react? I’m sure my reaction would be similar to Peter’s, with lots of female exclamation behind it.
It simply didn’t make any sense at the time, but Jesus knew exactly what he was doing.
As I read the account today, the Spirit spoke directly to my heart.
Once we realize we have nothing to offer God but sin and filth, his Spirit can fill us.
He fills us once we empty out all of the murk left in us by the world.
So often, when I reflect on all Jesus did for me and read about his great sacrifice, I want to do something for Him in return. But Christ already did the work for me on the cross. It is finished.
Anything I can offer is because of his great love, the Spirit living in me.
So go to him needy. God to him asking for his help. Empty out all of the sin, the anger and frustration, the bitterness and fatigue. Ask him to forgive you for trying to carry that weight on your own. He is more than willing to cast it away and remember it no more.
And then, as an empty vessel, free from all of the dirt and murkiness of the world that soiled those feet, He can fill you. He can fill you until you are overflowing.
Overflowing with Love that you can go pour into the life of someone who needs it.