All I wanted was sleep.
What I needed was a spiritual spanking.
After spending twelve hours downtown rubbing shoulders with two-hundred thousand people at a basketball tournament, walking numerous miles to and from our boys' games and sitting in the sun, I was physically ready to crash. Unfortunately, my boys won (don't laugh), so I knew I needed rest to prepare for more mayhem in the city the following morning.
The cooler was emptied, the boys were bathed and I had just slipped into my happy pants, aka, my jammies. We were ready for bed. Yes! I wanted nothing more than to study the back of my eyelids.
"Guess who's here, honey?" my husband snickered. I was in no mood for jokes.
"What do you mean, who's here?" I retorted. A quick look out the front window sent my exhausted flesh into a frenzy!
"What is he doing here? It's 8:45pm and I do not have the energy to visit. How come he never calls? It's late honey and we don't get to sleep in tomorrow! This is crazy! I cannot do this!"
My husband was tired too, but I could see how my reaction perturbed him. As he graciously opened the door to our unexpected guest, I went to pray with our boys (not that my attitude was prepared for that either!).
Next, I made my way back to the kitchen, faked a pleasant greeting to our guest and went about packing lunches for the next day of the tournament.
While my husband and guest chatted at the dining table, the Lord spoke to my heart, "You haven't even offered him a cup of water."
I reluctantly extended a glass of water and went back to work.
Again the Lord spoke, "You should ask him if he's eaten dinner."
Dinner?! What?! But, Lord it's 9:00pm and I just want to go to bed. I mean, I've been gone all day. Can't I serve myself and just crawl in bed? You know how much I need my sleep. People don't just "pop in" for dinner and a visit at 9:00pm you know.
I knew arguing with God wouldn't go anywhere.
Our guest hadn't eaten since lunch. How convenient. When I offered a sandwich, he ordered it with the works.
I began to assemble the eight layer tower while chopping with extra exuberance and fierceness.
After delivering my masterpiece to our guest I went into our bathroom. Finally, a place of solace and peace, or so I thought.
While washing up, I noticed toothpaste all over my brand-new hand towel that a girlfriend recently gave me. I was already torked and this just lit me up!
Eerrrggh! Why can't our boys' keep the toothpaste in their mouths? Why do they have to get it all over my nice towel?!
In this moment God profoundly spoke to my tired, anxious and irritated heart:
"You're way too concerned with having a clean towel Hester. Truth is, your towel isn't dirty enough. To be My servant, you need a dirty towel."
The Lord's conviction forced me to tears. Indeed Lord, dirty towels are Your tools for ministry.
I berated myself for reacting the way I did to our guest and for missing a divine appointment to minister to someone who needed to be loved through service. Forgive me Lord.
My mind immediately turned to John 13:1-17. The account of Jesus washing His disciples feet tenders my heart. Our Lord and King humbled himself to serve His men by taking the lowliest position.
In the first century, foot washing was a task given to servants as an act of hospitality to guests. Jesus served as an example to His inner twelve. He showed them exactly how they were to minister to others, by taking the position of a servant.
John 13:14-15 says, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
Matthew 20:26 reminds us that whoever wants to be great must become a servant. If we are to follow the example of Christ, who did not come to be served, our mission must match His by serving others.
The Greek word for serve and servant (diakonos) come from the same root word meaning: to minister to another, to attend to anything that may serve another's interests, to provide or take care of the necessities of sustaining one's life.
Later in this same verse Jesus exhorts us by saying those who want to be first must be your slave. The Greek word for slave (doulos) means: one who gives himself up for another's will, those whose service is used by Christ in advancing his cause among men and one who is devoted to another without regard to one's own interests.
In effect, as a servant of Christ, we are to give up our lives for the will of Christ in order to advance His kingdom. We are to minister to others by being devoted to serve their interests above our own.
This is no easy task friends. As I openly shared, there are times when I just don't feel like serving others. When my physical strength appears limited or when others are ungrateful, it rubs me the wrong way.
Then, I remember the towel.
- Dirty towels are Christ's tools for ministry.
- Dirty towels are His measure of biblical greatness.
- If we want to be great, we must take the lowly position and get our towel dirty.
- If we want to be first, we must be the last and get our towel dirty.
- Serving others does not require personal convenience.
- Don't seek to be appreciated for what you do.
- Serve others even when they exhibit a spirit of entitlement.
- Don't grumble over divine appointments.
- God strengthens the weary to serve in His Name.
- Exhibit gratitude for toothpaste towels . . . dirty laundry . . .and finger print windows.
God measures our greatness by our smallness. How dirty is your towel?
Please comment how the Lord is stretching you with serving others? Write down one person who needs their feet washed this week? Choose to serve this one, by serving The One.
Have you considered the dirtiness of your towel? Is it sanitary and spotless or soiled and stained?
How are you challenged to serve difficult people or individuals who inconvenience you? How does flexibility/adjusting your agenda, play a part in spontaneously serving others?
Why should the example of Christ motivate you in your ministry to others?
Heart Changing Word:
Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV 1984) "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
John 12:26 "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."
Ephesians 6:7 "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men."
Colossians 3:23-24b "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, . . . It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.
Love this post Hester! Nice picture of living out obedience when God said "feed this man". It speaks to my heart. I also really appreciate your heart work challenge because many of us think we need to serve everyone and then we become overwhelmed. What would it look like if we started in our families (like our elderly parents or demanding mother in-law) What if we actually put our cell phones away when were out in public, looked around with a smile? I can tell you we'd see many people who need to be loved and served!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I appreciate your perspective and for sharing a real example from your own life. I esp.like your idea of putting our cel phones away and making eye contact with others! What a difference little things could do. :)
Bless you, Hester ;)
Hester, I have to confess that I feel the same way about unexpected guests. Especially when I'm tired. Thanks for sharing what the Lord taught you. It's a continual learning process for me, and I'm a slow learner. I'm grateful for His patience and graciousness.ReplyDelete
I'm so thankful for His grace too and His amazing patience. Thank you for taking the time to comment and encourage me.
Love and Blessings, Hester :)
Happy Friday to you Hester girl! Thank you for sharing a real life example of your week with us here. I have had many similar experiences as yours...ReplyDelete
My family and I are currently living with my parent's... sharing a home and land. We've been here for over a year now. Our hearts are to have a "retreat" and ministry place for God seekers, and tired Christians. You can imagine at how many things God has taught each of us about community living!? ;) It's all good because HE is good! Thank you for sharing girl... you have a wonderful ministry to women and to your family! God's working on restoring us all MORE for His GLORY! I'm growing along with you over here in Maine girl! :) ~ Blessings out, Amy
Amy, wow this is so encouraging to me. My family and I have also been living with my parents. We just returned from the mission field. We were serving in Haiti. When we left for the mission field we sold everything we own. Now we have to stay with my parents until God decides to tell us whats next. He has instructed us to rest at this time. It is very encouraging to know that having a retreat for tired christians is an area God has laid on your heart. It is a wonderful idea and I will pray for you in your endeavors. May God bless you and your family.Delete
In His Service, Cherie Evans
Thank you for taking the time to share with me. I didn't realize your living situation. Wow! I love your ministry to others and what God is doing through your family - Makes me want to come to Maine!
Thanks also for your encouragement to me regarding ministry.
Love and Blessings! Love, Hester ;)
Thank you for taking the time to encourage Amy! You are a sweet heart. You have been on my heart since I met you in Haiti. I know this is a hard time for you and I'm praying for you to be refreshed and that your rest is exactly what you need to prepare for the next ministry the Lord opens to you.
Love you sister, Hester ;)
Good Evenin' Cherie and Hester!Delete
What a wondrous story God is weaving for us!!! I'm so thankful for you sharing Cherie... now I know to PRAY for you! I have NO doubt that God has so much vision getting ready to unfold during your resting time! I would LOVE for you and Hester to come to Maine someday! ;) God's on the move girls and I love Him! It's a privilege to know you both!
Thanks again Hester for sharing on your blog... it's always exciting to get to meet new sisters! Blessings out, Amy
Thanks so much Amy!Delete
I love your passion and your heart and your encouragement to us both! God bless you sister, Love, Hester ;)
Dear Hester and Amy,Delete
It is so good to hear a personal response of encouragement from you both. God is definitly weaving a beautiful tapestry for each of our lives and ministries. I thank Him for choosing me. Hester, you have also been on my heart. I am so thankful for your time in Haiti. I believe God orchestrated that time for you to speak into my life. I appreciate you being obedient to the Holy Spirit, and everything you spoke was not only timly for me but for others as well.
Amy, my prayers are with you as well, I can see that God has purposed you for something very specific. Continue to sit at His feet and worship Him. Put aside anything that may hinder and follow Him with all your heart.
In His Service, Cherie Evans
Thank you so very much for your words of encouragement to me. You have really blessed me with what you have said. :) I've reflected on my time in Haiti too and how much it impacted me personally. It is truly God's work and what a privilege to be used of Him in such a way.
Amy has a great blog - if you click her name it should take you to it. ;)
Oh, He is sweet!
Love you sister,
Hester--what great word pictures to remind us when we are tired and yet, serving is required. You have inspired me! PS. I also enjoyed reading the comments to this post, what an encouragement!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate you sharing with me and I too enjoyed the comments on this one - it was encouraging to see other gals inspire one another as we serve our King!
Love you Kim,
The timing of this is just perfect Hester. This week I start my first independently led bible study for women. I am so stinkin' nervous but trust God that the perfect women are coming and I can help them work through a book that may change their lives. I never imagined I would want dirty towels, but not I hope that I can leave a trail of. them behind me.ReplyDelete
It is so nice to hear from you. Thank you for your comment. :) I'm very excited to hear what God is doing in your life - love it! And, I love how you want to leave a trail of dirty towels behind you -- good thought sister! :) Keep me posted on the Bible study. :)
Love you sister, Continue to shine for Him!
Love, Hester ;)
A clean towel reveals preservation of self and image; a dirty towel is a measure of giving in service and love to others. Your images here will not be soon forgotten. An exhortation from laundry! I love it. I'll take it a step further and continue to do the 'Heart Work' here as I fold my towels each week, praying God would give me eyes to see and a heart to respond. Thanks, Hester.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate your feedback very much. It's a heart check for all of us every day I think - to keep a godly perspective in life is hard.
Bless you sister,
Love, Hester :)