Washing Feet

Have your feet ever been so dirty that you didn’t want to touch them? I know every time I wore sandals in New York when I got home my feet were kinda disgusting. All the street dirt and grime and subway goo that got on them made them a slightly darker shade than my natural color.

I am sure all of you have been there at some point. You have worn sandals or gone barefoot outside while camping, at the beach, at a lake or a river, an amusement park or somewhere else. And when you got home you were looking for the anti-bacterial dish soap to use on your feet, maybe followed up by a little bleach and Lysol. Ha.

What if your feet where always like that? What if that was normal? What if everyday your feet were exposed to the elements and you walked barefoot in dirt that clung to them like it had glue in it? Can you imagine how dirty your feet would be at the end of each day? I can because I have seen it. They would be browned and blackened by the dirt and sweat, the skin would start to chaff leaving the foot with a white ashy powder, and your calluses and toe nails would be toughened by nature. AKA you wouldn’t be becoming a foot model anytime soon!

Now, imagine that your feet are incredibly dirty and you want to wash them off, to clean them. You finally get home and you remember that you don’t have a shower. You don’t have running water. You don’t even have a bathroom inside your house. Oh, and you have a dirt floor. Not cement, not tile and definitely not aged wood or carpet. Dirt. And dirt that becomes mud when it rains.

Some of you may be thinking that you would just buy closed toed shoes, boots, or something to protect your feet. That’s a great idea. But what if you didn’t have the money? What if you were struggling to even buy enough food for your family? Would you be able to look your hungry child in the eyes and tell them there is no food because you bought shoes so your feet wouldn’t get dirty? I imagine that my priorities would change radically and rapidly.

So where am I going with this? Two quick points. First, Jesus. Second, sandals.

In John 13 Jesus does something incredible. He and all his disciples are eating together and Jesus get’s up from the meal, takes off his outer garment, wraps a towel around his waist, and proceeds to pour water into a basin. I can imagine all the disciples were wondering what he was doing. This was certainly not the EXPECTED behavior of a King much less God incarnate.

Jesus then begins washing the feet of his disciples one by one. You have to understand how counter-cultural this was. How contrary it was to everything their society was built upon. This was the work of slaves and servants and others that were deemed less important than the one whose feet they were washing. And these feet were just like the ones I see with the poor here. Dirty, dust covered and calloused. And Jesus, the Kind of all, is washing them with his own hands.

The thing that blows me away about this is that right before Jesus does this John tells us that he knew “that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” He KNEW that ALL THINGS were under his power!! He KNEW he WAS God!

In short, Jesus, the most powerful, glorious and holy being ever to exist – GOD HIMSELF – not only desired to place himself in the lowest position of social status he could, but HE DID IT. And did it completely. He did what Paul wrote in PHillipians 2. Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

The God of the universe got on his hands and knees to humble himself by cleaning the dirtiest, lowest, most disregarded part of his disciples. He breaks all cultural stereotypes, assumptions, and expectations to make a statement: “I, the Lord of everything, rather than claim my rightful place above all love you so much that I willingly choose to place myself below the dirtiest part of your being. You, one of billions, are more important than me, the one and only.”

What a display of love and humility! Oh, how I desire to serve like that man. So many times we give ourselves away because we should, or because we know it is the right thing to do. But not Jesus. He gave himself away not just because he wanted to, but because he NEEDED to. For him, it was simple. We were it, his prize, his bride, his love, his everything. And for us he would give up everything, even his own earthly identity and life so that we might be loved and to attain a spiritual identity defined by one word: Love.

Oh, to have a heart willing to give up every ounce of my earthly identity to take on the spiritual identity of the one and only servant-King. To be so much a servant that when people think of my name it is synonymous and inseparable with His.

Second part: Sandals. On June 14th, members from the Heritage Church of Christ in Fort Worth and volunteers from BICA here in Jinotepe helped us distribute sandals to the poor in Tipitapa (VIDEO BELOW!!). They lovingly embraced each child, measured their feet, gave them a pair of sandals, joy, and a demonstration of stereotype crushing love. It was beautiful.

For the greater part of the day I was trying to coordinate and keep everything running as smoothly as possible. As a result I didn’t really get a chance to just stop and soak it up. But there was a moment, brief but clear, when I was able to stop and “see”. We were in the last distribution point, everyone had been working all day, and we were all soaked in sweat and covered in dirt. I took about 15 seconds to step back and take in the moment.

I saw Leonardo on his knees checking sandals on the feet of each child, Tim and Beverly and Freddy ready with pairs of sandals, Olga distributing sandals and translating, Cristofer manning the door and the craziness outside, Cristhian and Julio and Walter and Erick taking names and measurements, Amanda taking pictures, Paul passing out candy, my father drawing smiley faces on everyone’s hands, and Heraldo coordinating.

It was awesome. All of them were loving on every child as if they were their own. It didn’t matter if they were covered in dirty, didn’t have clothes on, were sick, or anything else. When they stepped in our circle of work they were loved.

Then I freaked out a little. “WHERE IS MY MOM!?” Then I saw her. She was sitting in the dirt in front of the door measuring the feet of each child that came in. She was taking each child’s dirty feet in her bare hands with nothing but love in her eyes and heart. It didn’t matter if the child’s foot was muddy and broken and calloused. For her I believe each child’s foot appeared as it could be – clean and healthy – not as it was – dirty and broken. Each child was the same and no child was different: all needed love.

I immediately thought of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet and had to start working again to keep from getting all teared up. I was so proud of my mom, my dad, Cristhian, Walter, Olga, Tim, Beverly, Amanda, Paul, Erick, Leonardo, Cristofer, Freddy, Heraldo, and Julio. It was such an honor to be with these amazing people who, “did not consider equality with [others] something to be grasped; but made [themselves] nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,” and gave themselves away.

There might not of been water present, but feet were definitely being washed.

Be sure to watch the video below of the distrubtion!

2 Comments

  1. Beverly Eden says:

    Chris,
    This is so beautiful! I could barely watch the video through the tears. Seeing all of those precious babies again and remembering how incredibly special it was to have them in our arms. I know God has big plans for Tipitapa and I believe with all my heart that He isn’t finished using the team from Heritage or the BICA men to fulfill His purpose.
    God bless you in your efforts.
    In Him,
    Beverly

  2. [...] is a link to Chris’s blog telling about the distribution of those sandals.    He was there so his telling of the event is [...]

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