Serving When It’s Hard

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Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” John 13:1-20 ESV

Sometimes I have a hard time serving. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it or feel a desire to be disobedient, but let’s be real here, it’s way easier to be poured into than to pour into others. This was my normal Sunday to work with the littles downstairs. We ended up with 10 babies ranging in age from two-eighteen months. Honestly, I was ready to pull my hair out.

Then I thought about the beauty of Jesus’ humility in this passage (John 13:1-20). Here is the King of the Universe, bending down to wash the gross feet of the disciples who had been wearing sandals and walking along dusty, dirty roads. There were also probably all sorts of yucky things to think about on that road. It was nasty, let’s leave it at that. But, Jesus was not turned away from their nastiness (and He isn’t turned away from ours either!!). He didn’t plug His nose, hold His breath, and grin and bear it. He tenderly and lovingly volunteered to go into their mess and make them clean. What a picture!

Can you imagine how hard it must have been to do a thankless job which was not envied after in the slightest? When I close my eyes, I can almost hear the servants’ conversations. “I don’t want to wash their feet! They smell and I’m pretty sure its not just from the heat.” “Ooh, look who’s scraping the bottom of the barrel tonight! Who’d you make mad to get that job?” “Ugh, my turn again?! I just did it last week!”

I love how our pastor brought out that this was considered the lowest part of servanthood and the most menial of tasks. A lot of people view childcare in a similar way. I know this because I often hear things like, “Oh, I could never deal with all the tears, and diapers, whining, and snot.” Kids ministry is hard. It’s not for everyone. I completely get that. Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the situation. Here I am with Goldfish smushed into my jeans and snot on my shirt, feeling frustrated that we were understaffed for yet another Sunday, when God, in His goodness, reminded me of the humility I just heard about a few minutes earlier. What a privilege it is to love on these babies and help their parents guide them in the Lord! What a blessing it is to have 4 visitors out of 10 kids! What an encouragement it is to have someone working with you who is also committed to loving on those sweet babies!

So, yes. It’s hard. Some days of serving will make you ready to sit down and cry with the kids, but how wonderful it is to realize that Jesus knows your struggle intimately. He sees you feeling discouraged and like you’ve accomplished nothing for the Kingdom. He’s been there and yet, He continued to serve the very people who made Him feel this way. Praise God that He didn’t stop serving just because it got hard! 🙌🏻💜

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