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.