After their last supper together, Jesus asked Peter to let him wash his feet. Peter protested.
Peter looked at Jesus and said, “You’ll never wash my dirty feet—never!” “But Peter, if you don’t allow me to wash your feet,” Jesus responded, “then you will not be able to share life with me.” (from John 13 in The Passion Translation)
Jesus confronted him sternly. This was important. This was so important that Jesus said Peter could not be a part of him if he did not let Jesus wash his feet.
On that evening full of important parting instructions, he also said, “So this is my parting command: Love one another deeply!” (verse 17)
Loving one another deeply requires mutual submission. Submission is not a word I like. Surrender is even worse. By confronting Peter he gave the clear message: Unless you are willing to accept help — my help — you can’t be a part of this.
This is the aspect of submission that I’ve missed for so many years. Submission doesn’t mean being a doormat to someone who would take advantage. Submission means saying, “How can I extend myself to help you to become all Christ means you to be?” Submission also means surrendering to Christ when he says, “Let me help you.”
Submission means becoming vulnerable to God’s goodness.
Experiencing God’s goodness is a prerequisite to loving one another.
From my kitchen window, I saw the foxglove plant my sweet friend Diana gave me. It was still on the deck with a collection of other bedding plants waiting for the weather to warm up enough to plant it. The low evening sun lit its petals with fire. I just had to hobble out there with my camera to capture it. I joke that I need a sign on the back of my car that says, “This vehicle brakes for lighting conditions.”
Sometimes backlight turns objects into dark silhouettes and sometimes, when the subject is transparent, more is revealed than we could see before. This time I was fascinated by the little spots like a cobblestone path leading deeper into the heart of the flower. I snapped the photo, then covered the flats of bedding plants with a plastic tarp.
I haven’t planted them in the garden yet for two reasons. 1) It’s been unseasonably cold with frost appearing in unexpected areas the last few nights and 2) because a few days ago, while attempting to cover up the few snapdragons I did plant last week, I fell and undid a lot of physiotherapy on my legs and back.
I only meant to slip outside quickly and put a sheet over the snapdragons and pansies before going to bed. Not wanting the taller flowers to be bent by the covering, I tried to push a stick into the soil for the sheet to rest on. The stick broke and I lost my balance. When the shock wore off, I assessed the situation. I had twisted every joint and muscle on my left side in an attempt to avoid impaling myself on the broken stake as I went down. I knew instantly I had torn more cartilage in my already damaged knees and it felt like I had sprained an ankle. It was dark and cold. I had no jacket or sweater. The walker I know I should keep nearby for balance because of my knee problems was inside. I was lying like a beached whale in a muddy flower bed with only crushed snapdragons for support. I couldn’t get up. My husband was inside, in his office with the door shut, and my neighbours’ lights had been turned off for the night. No one could see me or hear me.
I prayed my most frequently used go-to prayer. “Oh God!”
Eventually I rolled out and somehow got up on the lesser damaged leg. I yelled again and my husband heard me while turning off lights before retiring. He managed to help me up the three impossible stairs to the hallway where I could ride the rest of the way seated on the walker. I couldn’t put any weight on one leg at all for a couple of days. The rest of my body reminded me of the indignity it had suffered as well. I felt so stupid.
For the past few days I’ve been showing up like a silhouette in the sun to most people, which is easy to do when we are still mostly on lockdown. What injury? Nothin’ to see here. I am definitely not looking for sympathy, but neither have I admitted why I haven’t left the house lately. So here is my transparency. You may notice I’ve got spots.
Sometimes I need help and it’s hard to admit. I want to be the one who helps others, not the one who needs someone to pull me out of the mud, but the Lord reminds me that mutual submission means saying both “Let me help you,” and “I need your help.” It may be more blessed to give than receive, but only those who know how to receive learn how to humbly give in a way that lifts people up and doesn’t put them down for the absence of judgment that got them into a mess.
Some people say that talking about an illness or injury is somehow showing a lack of faith or being negative. My response to that is, “It will be interesting to see how God uses this experience.” Faith in real time means talking about real problems and real answers to prayer. By the way, I can now put some weight on my leg and maneuver around one level of the house and, most importantly, get to the bathroom on my own. (Praise God!) Healing is happening.
To friends who prayed, washed my muddy floor, and asked if I wanted more snapdragons, thank you. To my husband who is always there (as long as he hears me) I love you. To my physiotherapist who has been working hard these past weeks to get me moving, sorry about that.
This morning I heard two gentlemen on a park bench. It was hard not to hear them. They were conversing with the volume of the newly hard of hearing.
“You know, I have never paid much attention to American politics, but now it’s my whole damn life!” said one.
I’m not one to stick my head in the sand. I watch and listen and keep up with current events outside my own country. I try to treat people with different opinions with honour, even when I am becoming increasingly aware that some people hate me simply for my beliefs.
I do understand the man on the bench though. It reminds me of the old westerns where everyone in the saloon is keenly aware of tension rising at the poker table. Stakes are high and bystanders are quietly checking the exits and looking for cover.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming and sometimes it’s hard not to be dragged into the prevailing atmosphere of fear, anger, confusion, disappointment, and division. Then I remember my focus needs to be on my good, good heavenly Father who knows the whole truth. In him I am secure.
For no matter where I am, even when I’m far from home, I will cry out to you for a father’s help. When I’m feeble and overwhelmed by life, guide me into your glory, where I am safe and sheltered.
Lord, you are a paradise of protection to me. You lift me high above the fray. None of my foes can touch me when I’m held firmly in your wrap-around presence!