“…I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” – John 1:27
“I was hungry, and you fed me. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me….when you did it to one of the least of these…you were doing it to me!” – Matthew 25:35-36, 40
I’ve never looked at these two passages in tandem before, but I thought the parallel was thought-provoking: when you take care of people, you take care of Christ.
p.s. That’s an honor, because we’re not even worthy to tend to his sandals.
I’ve heard that marriage, parenting, and even the privilege of full-time ministry can be “a series of little deaths,” as we lay down our expectations and rights and desires for the sake of those we are called to serve. I think we only humble ourselves to the point of those little deaths when we remember that the One who asks us to do so led the way himself.
I have often found it helpful, whether I’m having difficulty with a stranger or family, to look past the person I am directly interacting with to the Savior who is teaching me how to treat them. When I see him, all my excuses about how it’s not fair and they don’t deserve it and I’m too tired fall away, because whatever it is he is asking of me, he is absolutely worthy of it. This person in front of me, I could easily find a reason to turn away from.
But how could I say no to the one who has given up everything for me?
Today, as I feed, clothe, and unfasten sandals, may I remember who I’m really doing it for, and that I am not even worthy to be his slave.
Make me a humble and willing servant, eager to give to and help those who are precious to you in any way I can.
Authentic generosity and willingness to serve are two of the clearest displays that someone is becoming more like you – the only one who is worthy of all service and yet laid down his position and rights and very life to serve.
My one-year-old is in this crazy stage of exploring and climbing on almost everything, but he’s still getting the hang of his balance. This month, he fell and hit his head. so. many. times.
On a door hinge, on the steps, on the fridge door, on the coffee table, on the gravel, on a pinecone. Some days, I’m convinced he’s actually aiming for the only hard object with a corner in sight.
Man, have I felt like a failure when it comes to protecting him! So far it’s been nothing serious, but I am exhausted from trying to anticipate when this top-heavy toddler is going to tip over and the guilt I feel when I didn’t catch him in time. I have literally found myself saying the words, “One day. Let’s just make it one day without any head trauma, okay?”
It’s been just one of the many contexts where I have been moved to frustrated, irritable words toward myself and my family, and it’s been revealing to me that:
a) I have some unrealistic expectations about my ability to foresee and prevent every injury.
b) Kindness, patience, and self-control aren’t exactly the traits that surface when I’m under stress or pressure.
It turns out, I can be just as off balance as my toddler.
Six Hundred Expectations
This verse in chapter 33 of Jeremiah looks forward to a new way of things for Israel. It hints at a time when God would do something totally unexpected; when he would take these 613 expectations where his people came up short again and again and again, and he would step in.
My eyes flitted across the words, “The Lord IS our righteousness,” and it caused me to pause.
I think I most often function at the level of “The Lord expects/wants/demands my righteousness.” What would change if that thinking shifted to, “The Lord IS my righteousness?”
I would stop trying to be something I constantly fall short of. I would rely on his goodness and strength and kindness instead of trying to be those things myself. I would let these words that sing of Christ stepping in resonate in my soul, and perhaps, for once, I would let him.
I read this verse in 1 Corinthians this morning, and it put to words the frustration I often feel day in and day out:
I am called to a way of living that I am powerless to carry out. I am called to participate in a plan that I am totally inadequate and unprepared to bring together.
And I hate butting up against that powerlessness.
He asks me to be kind and self-controlled and to consider others’ interests, to parent firmly and also graciously, to be a respectful and uplifting teammate in my marriage even when I’m under a lot of pressure and feeling frustrated, to raise the funds to do full-time ministry, to move overseas where there’s no Target or Starbucks and the internet is slow and I’m far from my family and the language falls strange on my ears and the state of things is heart-breaking and the work is worth it, but the team is understaffed and the hours are long and unpredictable and to adjust to everything being different and to still be kind and self-controlled and a faithful parent and a respectful wife and
I can’t keep up. I cannot do it all. I cannot do even one of those things.
And I am tired.
Your list probably looks different than mine, but maybe you feel that way, too.
Will You Let Me?
You and I are as powerless to keep up with our lists as any Israelite straining to measure up to those 613 impossible expectations and constantly falling short.
But our Savior says this:
I can. I can do each and every one of those things. You are powerless, but I am all-powerful. “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world, is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
I am your righteousness. I will do this thing. Will you trust me and come along? Will you relax your furrowed brow and breathe and watch me do it? Will you believe that I am bigger than the obstacles and able to heal even the most broken things? Will you let me be powerful and impressive and praiseworthy in your life instead of seeking to be those things yourself?
I am the Lord. I am your righteousness. Will you rest in that or will you keep trying to take my place?
A Prayer For When I Blow It
Oh Lord –
I am not kind. But you are my kindness. I am not patient. But you are my patience. I am not wise. But you are my wisdom.
When I am unkind, help me to remember, “Oh yes. That’s because that’s what I am like. But that is not what you are like. Jesus, be my kindness right now.”
When I blow up, help me to say in that moment, “Oh yes, that’s because I am short-tempered. But that is not what you are like. You are patient. You are self-controlled. You are gentle. Jesus, I cannot do what is right without you, because YOU ARE my righteousness.”
So I will just be weak. I will be humble. I will say I’m sorry. I will beg for your help. And I will watch and see what you will do with a heart that is willing to step out of the way and give you room to work.