A Servant’s Heart

washingfeetToday was a truly blessed day.

In my workplace, there is a gentleman who works under my supervision. He’s jovial even when he’s exhausted, tells corny jokes, despises paper work, and tolerates working in a female-dominated industry without a single eye-roll.   In the years that I’ve known him, I’ve discovered that he truly believes in honouring women on International Women’s Day.  He grew up in a culture that doesn’t necessarily make big deal out of Mother’s Day, however March 8th is one that he is very intentional about observing.

I was at the end of my workday and he was easing into his shift. After the workday on Thursday afternoons, a few of us hang back to do a boot camp of sorts, congregating in the fitness room to exercise.  I had changed into my workout clothing, and my running shoes were encrusted in the mud from a previous almost-spring- run through the neighbouring park.

I was ready to get down to business, when, motioning to a chair, this gentleman said, “Monica, sit down.”  I had no idea what he was up to, I thought perhaps he was going to give me an exercise to slog through. As our informal in-house fitness instructor, he is generally the one putting us through our paces, but he had other responsibilities to tend to, so I wasn’t sure why he was telling me to sit down.  He donned a pair of disposable gloves and grabbed a tub of antimicrobial wipes.

“Give me your foot.””

Obediently (which is a change for me, being his supervisor, after all) I lifted my foot.  He took my foot in his hand and began wiping the dirt off of my shoes.  First the left foot, and then the right.  In that moment, I began to think of Jesus.  How He had, during the Last Supper, washed each of His disciples feet–even Judas’–knowing that within hours, he would be betrayed by the very one He had humbled Himself before.

I thought about how short-tempered and sometimes downright rude I can be to this gentleman, and there he was, in essence, washing my feet.  As much as it makes me cringe to admit that I don’t always model Christian attributes, I know that I don’t stand alone in this, but I am willing to ‘fess up.  My poor behaviour that I sometimes display, often unwarranted,  was no deterrent to his kindness and that made it all the more difficult for me.  I inwardly squirmed as  I remembered how Peter argued with Jesus, stating, “No, you shall never wash my feet!”   Jesus told him that if He didn’t, he (Peter) would have no part in Him.  Jesus was essentially giving him and the other disciples a template for how to demonstrate a servant’s heart. Unless they learned to serve, they would not be able to carry out the great commission He had in store for them. (Paraphrasing of John 13:16)

So as I allowed my filth to be cleansed, my mind returned again to how Jesus took our filth upon Himself and allowed it to plunge  Him into the grave.  I reflected on how undeserving I am of the grace Jesus showed by taking on my sin, and how undeserving I was to have this man clean my shoes. My inner-witness slowed the proceedings like it was happening in slow motion.  I watched as he modelled humility; it wasn’t a show for those around who witnessed this act, rather it was a humble gesture of kindness and an intentional demonstration of honour and servitude.

Perhaps he meant it simply as a gesture of showing honour to his “boss” on International Women’s Day, but the message I received was so much more than that.  I was reminded that in heavenly realms,  there is no distinction between “boss” and “employee”.   Ultimately, we all have the same Master to Whom we are both accountable . While my shoes still show tell-tale signs of miles trudged through the mud, the rest of me has been cleansed white as snow.   I am eternally grateful that while my filth carried Jesus to the grave, it was His grace and love that brought Him-and me- back out again .

Yes and amen.

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