I stood before my congregation a few months ago and made this statement: “God will use difficult times in our lives to reveal more of his character… He will use hard times, to make us more like him.” How was I to know that I was about to learn that lesson, yet again, for myself?
A few days after uttering those words, I took one misstep in my front yard and severely broke my left ankle. As I cried out in pain, I instantly thought, “I don’t have time for this!” But the Lord was going to use this time in my life to reveal to me more of his love and more of his heart for others.
Because of the nature of the break I was required to have surgery, but it would be delayed for nine days in order for the swelling to decrease.
On the morning of surgery, as the nurse was finalizing her duties and preparing me for the operation, she asked if I had any concerns. I made a casual statement that seems silly now, but at the time it was something that really bothered me. I told her that my broken foot…STUNK! I hadn’t washed it since the morning of my injury — nine days prior! It had been splinted and then placed in a boot, and the mere thought of touching it with anything caused me to avoid washing it. And quite frankly, I was embarrassed by my condition.
She assured me, “It is not a big deal, the surgical team wouldn’t even notice it. And besides, they sanitize it well before surgery in the Operating Room.”
I smiled and thought to myself, “Linda, you are being vain!” (And was thankful that I’d be asleep so I wouldn’t have to deal with the medical team face to face.)
Right before surgery, this nurse came back into the room with a warm cloth. She said, “I know that your smelly foot will not bother anyone, but it bothers you. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to wash it for you before surgery. Are you OK with that?”
Was I OK? Well to be honest I was scared that it would hurt, but the gesture was so kind I thanked her, winched in anticipation, and said, “Yes, thank you!” I sheepishly allowed her to uncover my foot and watched as she so very tenderly took the warm cloth to it.
It was at that moment the Lord spoke to me. Through the gentle hands of a busy nurse who had much more important things to do than to tend to my smelly appendage, he began to speak to me. As she washed my foot, I felt like Jesus himself was tending to me. And friends, it was much more than my foot that was being changed at that moment — it was my heart.
As she carefully and so delicately wiped my foot, I saw the importance of taking time for those tasks that may seem insignificant to me — and yet so vitally important to someone else. I am not sure what may have been on this nurse’s agenda in that moment, but what I do know is she stopped everything to take care of something that was important to me. I was humbled at the love and kindness from those precious gentle hands.
As Jesus was about to be taken to the cross, one of the very last things He did for His disciples was to wash their feet. He did it, I’m sure with love and tenderness, and yet with a strong and clear message for those that he cleansed and also for us today: It’s important, no matter what you are doing, no matter how important the task at hand may be, don’t forget to stop and take care of your neighbor. Stoop low. Be tender. Show the way of a servant. In doing so, no matter how menial the task may seem, lives and hearts will be changed.
I know mine has been.