“My feet aren’t going to know what to do with someone handling them so gently. Usually the aides are in such a hurry, they just shove the shoes and socks on my feet.” As I slid knee-highs on Doris, an elderly woman who lived at the same retirement center I lived and worked at for free rent as a seminary student, I was overwhelmed that she’d allow me to look at her feet and get so close to them. They smelled awful and her toenails were a dark yellow from age, but she wasn’t embarrassed. As I cared for her, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet in John 13.
“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? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12-17).
I attended a wedding a little while ago and had an unexpected interaction with another guest. Moments before the bride walked down the aisle, there was a man seemingly trying to make eye contact with me. I didn’t recognize him, so I assumed he was looking at a clock or a bird or someone behind me. I just looked away.
But, he continued and actually escalated his attempt at communication with a casual wave. Nonplussed, I waved back, hoping he would realize that we didn’t know each other. The whole exchange felt really awkward.
And…yes, I’m single and I know what all of you are thinking.
Anyway, after the ceremony, he hesitatingly approached me.
He said, “You don’t remember me, do you?”
I absolutely hate this question because I often forget meeting people. I answered as politely as I could that I didn’t remember him. He gave me his name, which helped slightly, then he reminded me that we worked within the same organization over a decade ago. You have to understand, I was vaguely beginning to put some memories in order. He then proceeded to tell me that since we worked together, he had become a Christian. He shared his story, in brief, and began to unpack the way he used to live before he came to faith in Christ. He continued and said that he believed that if he was ever afforded the opportunity to ask me to forgive him, he would.
Forgive him? Forgive him for what? I didn’t even remember him.
Last spring a group of large dudes who have come to be known as The Big Guns built some raised garden beds in our backyard. I love to garden, and this project felt like a big ‘ole sloppy kiss from the Lord right on my cheek. The vegetables, the teachable moments, the vegetables that teach me in moments…our backyard is becoming a full heart kind of place for me. And an unanticipated bonus of this whole yard project: the smells.
Now, granted, I have a very sensitive smeller, so maybe this won’t apply to everyone…but the smells, the smells…they are getting me. I *adore* the smell of a freshly pinched tomato sucker. And bitty E tells me blooming bee balm “smells like cleaner.” (Still not quite sure what that means.) The dirt, even some of the fertilizer (that’s weird, right?), my herbs…I love it all.
But there is one smell that is getting me good.
We used 4×4 cedar posts to construct the raised beds. While The Big Guns were here, they went ahead and cut the remaining posts to construct an archway over our fence gate at a later point in time. (Sometimes Big Guns tire of carting around Heavy Electric Saws.)
Those cedar posts have taken up residence in our garage, just to the side of my car. And they have lit up our garage. Previously the garage smells were not of such a nice variety. Yes, on occasion, based on perfect weather conditions and zero humidity, the garage would smell pleasant. Like a garage should. However, we live in the deep south. Like, put on your diving gear deep. And we have a diapered toddler. So most days our garage smells like hot trapped trash.
Enter cedar posts, stage right.
I’m terrible at following directions. This fact has resulted in many quandaries through the years, like the time I decided I didn’t need driving directions for a trip back to college one semester, and for about two-hundred of the four-hundred-mile journey, I drove in the wrong direction.
There was that time.
I also neglect directions when it comes to putting furniture together. Once I pull out the pieces and lay out the various tools, screws, and parts, I simply start. The directions can usually be found in the trash because I have convinced myself: I can figure it on my own.
And this is why we have unnecessary holes in bookshelves, why we have a lop-sided chair, and why our music stands pop off every time I pull them up.
As ridiculous as my attitude is toward following directions, I’ve realized that my disposition toward Scripture can too easily slip into a similar mindset: I know it’s important, but I’ve read it before. Or, sadly, I will first seek my own solutions to difficulties in life rather than searching the Bible for answers; perhaps there is a part of me that believes I can figure it out on my own.
If you struggle to read the Bible because you don’t think it’s necessary, or if you’re tempted to believe that it doesn’t make a difference in your life, take a look with me at the particular words chosen by the Psalmist in Psalm 19.
God woke me up and showed me Jesus when I was in high school. My one and only high school boyfriend was about to escort me to a fancy Christmas party, and I was stoked. I’d noticed him acting a little strange recently, but I was sure it would pass. Instead, after the party he drove me to a quiet, romantic spot, and broke up with me.
I was devastated. My mother shouldered the burden of sorrow and rejection with me, but I refused to be comforted. As far as I was concerned, I was not only unloved, I was unlovable. Days turned into weeks. Then of all things, my mother—who was not the Bible thumping type—said this, “Rondi, you’ve got to get a hold of yourself. You need to ‘put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters.’”
In a flash, the Holy Spirit connected the dots for me. The Jesus of my childhood suddenly became the mighty Savior of the Scriptures who had come to rescue me. The 1971 folk song brought a portion of God’s word to life and Jesus stepped off the page.