Grab a Towel!

I never thought about this before.  

It was tradition in the ancient cultures of the Middle East to wash guest’s feet when they entered a home.  Typically this was performed by a servant.  According to some, in the absence of a servant, the job fell to the lowest person present.  Every organization has a pecking order, those who serve and those who are served.  Usually this is established fairly quickly.  One problem, Jesus didn’t have any servants (He still has trouble locating them), and He tended to turn pecking order ideas all upside-down.

So here’s the scene (and it probably wasn’t the first time):

They arrive at a place where no servants are present.  Maybe an argument ensues, “your turn…I did it last time…I do it all the time…”  You know how “kids” are.  Wait, I’ve seen adults act that way (Christian and non-Christian alike).

And since our Lord and King was not a type A person (you know, bossy, tough), I imagine Him hearing the argument and quietly getting up, grabbing a towel and going to work.  But think, they were shocked by this.  He hadn’t done it before.  Did He usually let them argue it out?  Did He usually offer bits of wisdom to admonish them?  In another scene, when he visits a leader in the community, He just doesn’t get His feet washed (an insult by the way), until Mary shows up with kisses and perfume and tears.

On this night, the night before He died, I think there might have been a sense of heaviness, a feeling of something about to change.  John felt it and wanted to be so close to JESUS that he leaned on Him during the meal.  No one wanted to be the one to set aside their self-concept, no one wanted to set aside their fears or concerns.  They may not have even thought of arguing, consumed by their own thoughts, foot washing was not paramount.  But Jesus, though He knew what was coming, though He had His own concerns and fears about what He was going to face, took off His robe, wrapped Himself in a towel and served.

I get weighed down by worries.  I see only uncertainty in my future on earth.  Fear can almost overwhelm me.  I want to be noticed and valued.  I want greater responsibility, greater dreams to dream.  I don’t want pain or embarrassment, humility, obscurity.

Maybe, instead of shoving myself forward into the limelight (or wishing God would) . . .

Maybe, instead of hoping for fame and glory (yes, I still wish for these things) . . .

Maybe, instead of considering how to up my position, leverage myself into power, be a mover and shaker in this world . .

Maybe, I should just go grab a towel.

Angry, tired and frustrated

I had all sorts of great titles running through my head this morning but they wouldn’t have been honest.

I have been sick for the past week.  Suffering from vertigo, looking at perhaps a long recovery time.  Hearing the words I’ve written to others but not feeling them, not believing them.  Remembering the dreams and hopes that I laid down, taking them back off the altar and wanting so bad for them to come true.

So, this morning I face a new day.  I am debilitated.  I weigh too much.  I am so out of shape and so far from what God designed me for.

A light breaks over my heart right now, in this moment.  It is the backdrop for the cross in my life.  Will I pick it up again?  Will I deny myself and follow Him?  I’ve seen too much, been through too much to believe that my will can accomplish anything good.  I struggle and fume, maybe this time, maybe I’ll win.

Satan throws at me every self-made man, every wealthy success story.  Those who have the cars, the house, the power position.  He lets me know what he offers.

And I reject it.

I want to be the hero of my own story.  I want to be the one who submitted his will so fully to Jesus that He has only to nudge and I’m there, He has only to call and I’ll answer.  I want to be the one who lays everything down and lets JESUS shine through.

That’s a life worth living.

Who gets the credit?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the triumph of great achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
– Theodore Roosevelt

So I keep replaying the end of the Super Bowl in my mind as I listen to those on both sides of the fence, those disappointed with the failure of the Seattle Seahawks, those amazed at the triumph of the New England Patriots.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles…”

Reality check: a 3-6 inch difference in either the placement of the ball or the angle of the receiver and Pete Carroll becomes an instant genius, a skilled coach and strategist. Tom Brady is trounced for his two interceptions. Seattle is the greatest team in the history of the NFL. Ok, maybe not the last one.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…”

That ‘s what I love about the quote from Teddy. We don’t deserve any credit. Our criticisms of what should or should not have been done are silenced. Our insight and blather are just that, so much Taurus faecus.

“who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…”

In our criticisms, we take on the voice of our enemy. He is the one that condemns and ridicules our every decision. He is the one that keeps us from moving as we second guess ourselves and live in fear of failure.

“… but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the triumph of great achievement…”

What is your dream? I think we offend God more by asking too little than from asking too much. He is our Father. He knows every hair on our head and every dream in our heart. He knows better what we can do in Him, what He can do through us. He calls us to it.

“… and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

You may fail, but what will He accomplish in your failure. You may win, it is His desire for you. People may laugh at you, question your sanity, outright fight against you.

Just get in the arena.

Who’s Talking Now?

I was looking at Matthew 12 where Jesus’ disciples are walking through the fields and eating the grain.  The pharisees pipe up, “Not Lawful!  Bad disciples, bad Jesus.”

How did they even see them doing this?  Why did they notice something that seems so meaningless?

Here’s my theory:

They were followers too.

Jesus had His disciples, twelve of them.  He also had many others that listened to Him and followed Him.  But there were others that walked along, following every action, every word.  They didn’t want to learn.  They wanted to tear apart.

Do you see this in your own life?  You start going in a good direction only to find that those around you are tearing you down.  You hear the condemning truth of how impossible your dreams are, how foolish you are, how you’ve failed so many times before.  They seem to be coming out of the woodwork, didn’t even know that they were there until you hear their voices.  “Bad!  Unlawful!  Not Christian!  Not Holy!”  They seem so mature.  They talk a good game.  They sound like they have life, living, God all figured out.

Then Jesus breaks in.  Man wasn’t made for the laws but laws were made for man.  God sees you as more important than rules.  God, CREATOR GOD, says, “There is therefore no more condemnation…”

Are you following Him?  Are you listening to Him?  Be in His word!  Listen to Godly counsel!  Pray!  And LIVE!

Those “clanging cymbals” are silenced by a “still, small voice.”