I really feel like at the beginning of this challenge I pulled out of the gate and was away to the races. I read every morning, put a lot of effort into it and made time at night to share my reflections for the day. Then around day 11 it's almost like the enemy crept into my life and started telling me a lie. "You don't need to read that every day. You can get by without it." It's small steps away from the plan. I decided I wasn't going to wake up before the kids. One small step. I could do it a little later in the morning. Another small step. I didn't need to set time aside at night. Yet another small step. All of a sudden I wasn't doing the reading in the morning OR my post at night and the enemy was smiling looking at how easy it was to make me change my actions.
As a result of all of that I set my alarm this morning, again. When it went off I turned it off because it had done what I wanted it to do. I wasn't out of bed, but I was awake. When my husbands alarm went off half an hour later I was roused again. (I'm a bit of wake-up-in-phases kind of person.) I was much more alert and told him I'd be getting up in about 15 minutes. Forty minutes later I woke up and was late. How typical! True to the beginning of this challenge, I was up with my kids. But today I did something a little different, I took my bible with me on my way out the door. I also carry one in my lunch pail, but I really feel connected to this one and wanted to continue my challenge with it. Plus, different versions. I know it shouldn't make a big deal, but it kind of does. Also, my bible is a journaling bible, see my last post. I left a little early this morning so that I could read chapter 13 in the car before I went into work. Let me tell you, it made a huge difference in my outlook for the day. I was friendly and happy. I said good morning and didn't brood at my computer. It was great. I almost felt like more a team member today. It was awesome.
Some things I made note of in chapter 13 was the last part of the first verse. He loved them to the end. It's talking about Passover and how Jesus knew that he was going to be killed. To show his love he washed his disciples feet. If you think about it, feet were how most people got around in those days. They were dusty, dirty, calloused. Definitely not the cleanest part of a person's body. This was a job that was left to the servants to do when guests arrived in someone's house. When Jesus reaches Peter, Peter is shocked by his actions. "What are you doing?! You can't wash my feet!" (paraphrase) He didn't want Jesus to stoop to the level of servant and wash his feet. Jesus answers with something that I have never given much thought to before - unless I wash you, you have no part with me (v. 8). I wrote next to this line, Jesus needs to cleanse us.
To cleanse someone.... what does that mean? Well, when I give my kids a bath I wash behind their ears and in their belly buttons and the bottoms of their feet. When my kids wash themselves they wash the areas that they can see; arms, legs, stomach. If we are going to be cleansed by Jesus it means he needs to clean all the parts of our lives, not just the "church" parts. I was talking about this early with the youth group (high school aged teens). Being a Christian doesn't mean we act "like we should" on Sunday morning and Thursday night. We are called to be living sacrifices to God. Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2). My Pastor refers to that as a "backpack Christian". You carry Jesus around but you only take him out on certain days or in certain situations. That's not what Jesus wants. He wants those areas of our lives we sometimes don't want to admit to. The "you can clean this part of my life, but stay away from the part where I go to the casino" or "you can have my Sunday mornings and maybe one night a week, but don't show up at my workplace". That's not what being cleansed by Jesus means. It means showing all the really dirty parts of your life so that he can purify you and change that area to make you a better person.
Reading on I made a note in the column, two lines, two words each: humble yourself, serve others. If we are able to humble ourselves and go out in humility then we can truly glorify God. Sometimes what God convicts you to do is really out of your comfort zone and you really have to humble yourself. For instance, last summer I got into a very heated discussion with my dad's fiancée. Words were said, tempers were lost. It was bad. I was a bad person at that moment. Ever since then there have been little nudges from the Holy Spirit to make amends. "I don't want to", I thought. "She hurt my feelings." God is so much greater than hurt feelings. This past Sunday the sermon was on unity and it was like a dagger in the heart of my conviction. I was not being obedient to God. I was not reaching out in humility to apologize for my actions. So I did. I reached out. Not because I wanted the glory. Not to say I was the better person or I was right/wrong. But to be obedient to the Holy Spirit. Who knows what my actions will generate but I know in my heart that I did the will of God. I humbled myself. It took a lot, but I did.
This leads into my last takeaway from John 13. Jesus has told the disciples that he will be betrayed by Judas. That he is going away and where he's going they can't come. His final command is this: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (v. 34). Let's take a closer look at this command. As I have loved you. Even when you sent the children away from my object lesson, I loved you. Even when you asked all the wrong questions, I loved you. Even when you really didn't get it and I had to explain it over and over and over again, I loved you. Even when you betray me for silver, I will love you. Even when you will deny me three times, I will love you. Even when, even when, even when, I loved you. Even when we walk away from God and he has to call us back, he loves us. Even if we're still hanging on to pride, he loves us. Even when we do something horribly terrible, he loves us. That's how we're supposed to love one another. My pastor said it really well last Sunday. Get over yourself. Yep, that's just about right. We are called to love. one. another.
What's super cool about this verse is that he said everyone will know you are my disciples. I do not consider myself a disciple. I'm not even close to being a disciple. That title is held for people like Luke and John. Not Andrea. But that's what Jesus is saying. If I love others, the way that Jesus loves me, then they will know I am his disciple. What does that mean? For me it means humbling myself, serving others, being obedient to God and loving one another. Even the man who yelled at me one day while I was at work. It's harder than it sounds but friends, it's so worth it.
What did you think of John 13? What verses jumped out at you and how can you apply them to your life?
You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side? This is my attempt to find greener grass right where I am in my life.
BTW - I'm the one on the right, just in case you didn't already know that.