I sat, scrubbing away the mud from the soles of my 5 year old’s bare feet. He giggled when it tickled and I felt my heart soften. Just 20 minutes before, I was frustrated beyond measure, as I left church early, with three kids in tow. On the way through the parking lot, the 5 year old and I both slipped in a mud puddle, caking our sandal feet in nasty, parking lot mud. I remember thinking, “You MUST be kidding!” We continued our trek home, me frustrated, and him cranky, both of us with muddy feet.
Oh, I was frustrated well before the mud incident. It had been one of THOSE mornings, to which I’m sure others can relate. All three kids were in a state of rebellion (each in their own way), hearts turned against my instruction, and my heart was growing harder as the morning wore on. This momma stuff can be hard. It can be pretty muddy.
I was struck, though, as I was kneeling before my 5 year old, cleaning his feet. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus as he washed his disciples’ dirty, worn feet (John 13). He knelt before Peter, the one that would deny their relationship in the coming days. He washed the filth from Judas’ feet, knowing that Judas had already quietly betrayed him, soon to be brought in the open. His hands cleaned the feet of Thomas, whose heart would doubt in the coming days and weeks. Jesus knelt before each imperfect disciple, touching their dirty feet, in an act of service that was far more than just cleaning dirt from the feet of these men. In that humble act, he was turning hearts.
“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.”
Humbly, he loves us, beckoning us to humbly serve and love, in His name. Even in our service to our children.
Sometimes our service looks like literally cleaning the mud from the feet of our child. Sometimes it looks like giving space, difficult teacher/parent conferences, cleaning up spills, bandaging hearts, taming tantrums, stitching relationships back together, asking for forgiveness, standing with them, loving and serving them when it is hard. It may look difficult, messy and unpleasant.
We choose to get our hands dirty, for the sake of their precious hearts.
Sometimes, it will seem that we are serving the hardest of hearts. Sometimes it may feel as if we cannot kneel any longer. Sometimes, it may feel like a hopeless endeavor.
Sometimes, our hearts are the ones changing.
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…”
We can tell of grace, when we give it.
We can speak of humility, when we are on our knees.
We can share the love of Jesus, when we allow His love to be an extension of us.