Saturday, March 9, 2013

My feet are dirty


This past weekend, we had the privilege of visiting Ngurunit, the nearby hometown of a secondary school teacher. After a bumpy, dusty one-hour drive, we arrived in this beautiful, mountainous town. For a few days, we walked around, enjoyed the company of old and new friends, and spent lazy evenings underneath the star-laden sky.

Walking through Ngurunit

It didn't take long for me to notice a simple difference between Korr and Ngurunit though. The sand and dirt that we walked on in Ngurunit had a greater affinity for sticking to my feet than back in Korr. The first afternoon, I looked down at my feet, impressed by the tan I was quickly getting. I soon realized that I was easily fooled as this “tan” was actually a thin, solid layer of dust.

There was also water in Ngurunit; water that you could swim in. The water was quite refreshing on those hot, African afternoons, and it was nice having the water clean my feet. But as we would leave the water and start back home, I would take about three steps before my feet were dirty again. In fact, my wet feet now exacerbated the problem. If dirt can cling easily to a dry foot, you can imagine how it took advantage of some damp ones.

Local children sliding down the rocks into the water

But let’s be serious. This isn’t a problem that is limited to Ngurunit. I rely on my feet each day to transport me through the hot, windy desert in Korr. And at the end of the day, well, they are in need of a good cleaning. They are calloused. Sweaty. Dusty. Just plain dirty.

The other day, as I contemplated this unfortunate by-product of my life, my mind jumped to John 13, a story in the Bible that talks about dirty feet. If you are not familiar with it, I encourage you to check out the whole story. Here’s a glimpse.

“After that, he [Jesus] poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” [John 13:5]

Washing feet was a job saved for servants, and rightly so. It wasn’t exactly the most glamorous job. Servants would have to get down on the ground and proceed to touch filthy, smelly feet. Feet that perhaps hadn’t been cleaned in several days. They would use their hands, which they used to eat and drink and clothe themselves, to wipe the grime off of strangers’ feet.

Now with that thought in mind, let’s ponder this story. Jesus, the Son of God, was eating dinner with his closest friends. You can almost hear the gasps in the room as He stood up and walked toward a pitcher and basin. Jesus was their teacher, their leader, their God. He was the last person who should perform such a demeaning task.

But in order to show them the “full extent of his love” [verse 1], Jesus knelt on the floor, and began to wash his disciples’ feet. Full of compassion. Full of humility. Full of love.

Today, I look down at my dirty feet, and close my eyes. I imagine a scene similar to the one portrayed in John 13, except that now Jesus isn’t washing his disciples’ feet. He’s washing mine. The very same Jesus who sits at the right hand of God is sitting at my feet. He looks me tenderly in the eyes, and wipes the dirt from my feet. And by doing so, he is expressing the magnitude of his love. This isn’t a task fit for him, but He cannot help but show the depth of his love for me. So the God of the universe takes my dirty feet and cleans them.

Take a moment to picture Christ doing the same thing for you. Because He has.

Feet that Jesus himself has cleaned

And once Jesus had performed this simple but incredibly powerful act, He gave his disciples a charge.

“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]

We don’t live in a culture where washing feet is needed, but we are certainly to serve others the way Christ showed us. You know that man with the bad attitude? He really needs someone to listen to him. You know that woman who everyone gossips about? She could use someone to stick up for her. You know that young person who seems to make all the wrong choices? They would truly benefit from having a godly role model in their life.

We are all given different opportunities to love and to serve those around us. What are yours? How will you take hold of them today? This week? This year? May Christ's example be our guide as we seek to truly love others.

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