So here we go with one last blog in the “shoes and feet and more to come,” mini series.
(In advance, I know from a draft I`m working on for a future blog post that feet and foot washing will be revisited,-and I suspect it may well turn up more than once during my “blogging” life!)
Last time I wrote I said that I had a story of my own to tell about foot washing, as referenced in John 13 which says this…
“Before the festival of the Passover began, Jesus realised that the time had come for him to leave this world and return to the Father. He had loved those who were his own in this world and he loved them to the end. By supper-time, the devil had already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the mind of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. Jesus, with the full knowledge that the Father had put everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from the supper-table, took off his outer clothes, picked up a towel and fastened it round his waist. Then he poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel around his waist.”
And my story?
Well at the time I was living in North Wales. I had just started a job I didn’t really want, and I certainly wasn’t enjoying, which was being a nurse in a small local nursing home. Taking some time out one morning before my shift started, I sat in my car which was parked near the sea front in Rhyl, and with tears streaming down my face I none too politely or quietly informed God that, “This is not what I trained for! I did not do my children’s or general nursing training to end up doing this kind of work.” (I said more,which is probably best not repeated here). Suffice it to say I was well and truly mad with God for getting me into this mess, when, as soon as He could get a word in edge ways, into my heart, came an understanding of a prompting by which I felt God asked me to read the above passage of scripture. So I did.
Now I was fully aware of this story of Jesus washing His disciples feet. I was aware of the irony of the Master doing what should have been a servants job, and which none of the disciples had offered to do. I was aware that the head of the household should have provided for this necessary task to be done, and that by not doing so, he showed a total lack of respect for his guests. But what I noticed for the first time as I read the passage that day, was the inclusiveness of whose feet Jesus washed. He washed them all including those of Judas Iscariot who would, within a few short days of the recording of this story, go on to betray his friend .
I sat stunned, and then felt in my heart an understanding of the following question from God…
“If I could wash the feet of the disciple who I knew was going to betray me, can you not then do this kind of work for me?”
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the reading of that passage of scripture followed by that heart question that morning changed my whole attitude from then on. I began to not only “tolerate” all that nursing home work entails, but I grew to love working with elderly clients. In fact over half of my nursing career took place within nursing homes, including the setting up of and then being manager of a Christian run home in Essex for over six years, which was just wonderful and full of fun times. (See photo at the end of what the home, which is called Lyons Court looks like- just gorgeous!! )
Now as I look back on the 17+ years as that part of my nursing career, I consider myself privileged to have been allowed to have done the work I did, especially when it entailed, as it often did, some deeply personal times of walking alongside and supporting families as goodbyes were spoken, and indeed to pray, sometimes spoken out but often silent prayers for all concerned along the way.
During my Adelaide hospital nursing training a ward sister has challenged my thinking when she said this. “If you can help someone to live while they are dying, you will have done a good job.” That I then went on to love the elderly and to show them respect for the individuals they still are on the inside, even when they may no longer function as well on the outside as they once did, made me feel that I did indeed help some to live even as they were dying, and that I am very glad about. I’m glad that, as best I could, I was able to “do this for Him”
I realise that this “blog” is really more of a telling of my story than my usual , “pondering” type which I tend to write, but I really felt I could not do a series on “shoes and feet with more to come” without including my own “foot washing challenge” story. And in truth, that part of my story goes towards making up the whole of who I now am.
Perhaps then, just for today, we could all do a lot worse than take a pause to look back and consider how, despite what we may have thought at the time, He really does work things out for our best. Not always what we may have wanted, but always for our best.
And then when we have finished pausing, let us move on again, thankful for His promise to finish all that He has begun in us.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 1:6
Yours in Him,