Saturday, March 31, 2012

Are You Washed?

I’ve been reading the Gospel of John for more than a year. Over and over. Every time I read through it I see truth more clearly or discover a new facet of God’s love.

Recently I read the familiar passage in Chapter 13 that recounts Jesus’ last private moments with his disciples. They celebrated the annual Passover feast, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. And then Jesus washed their feet.

When Jews in first-century Palestine gathered in someone’s home, it was a cultural practice for guests to have their feet washed by a household servant—not by the host himself or another guest. The Lord’s deliberate act of servitude demonstrated the humility of love. But I believe it revealed even more.

Within the first few verses of chapter 13 we find a thumbnail sketch of Jesus’ entire mission. Each detail of the foot-washing—which may have taken roughly thirty minutes—can be matched to another corresponding action during Christ’s thirty or so years on earth.

The sketch begins with verse 3 as Jesus considered that he was soon “returning to God.”

Verse 12 repeats the verb: “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place” (NIV). These bookend references triggered the connection for me.

In my journal, I wrote out what I saw happening and paralleled it to biblical references I’d heard or read elsewhere. It looked like this:

He removed His outer robes             He laid aside His heavenly glory  
He put on a towel                        He clothed Himself with humanity
He stooped before them                  He took the form of a servant
He washed away the dirt                He washed away our sin
 (It wasn’t His dirt.)                    (It’s not His sin.)
He put his robes back on                He resurrected in His glorified body
He returned to His place                He returned to His Father in Heaven

John prefaces his entire account of the Passover meal: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1 NIV).

In “the full extent of his love,” the creator of the universe wrapped a towel around his waist and washed dirt from men’s feet. And in the further extent of that love, he washed the stain of sin from their lives.

Passover recalls the lamb’s blood spread above the doors of Hebrew slave homes. Those who believed and applied the blood turned death away. Those who did not believe did not apply the blood and their firstborn died.

The lamb’s blood saved the slaves from death only if they applied it. Christ’s sacrifice and the spilling of his blood saves us only if we accept it.

What about you this Easter/Passover season? Have you been washed by the blood of the Lamb?

Photo by AJ Spencer

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Magic of Mothers and Daughters

I remember the day the community editor dropped a book on my desk in the newsroom. “You might like this,” she said.

At the time, I covered crime and wrote features for a midsize daily newspaper in Colorado. I picked up the green and white paperback with red lettering on the front and thought, “Catchy title.”

So catchy that the New York Times bestseller list snagged it over and over again.

Since those long-ago days in the newsroom, the original book has hatched nearly 200 subsequent titles in 40 languages, and sold 112 million copies. Not bad for a slow starter.

I’ve tried several times to throw my name in the pot that first simmered that book, and this month the results of those efforts appeared in book stores across the nation. For me, it’s testimony to not giving up. Seeing the story about my daughter Amanda on page 135 opens my heart and rekindles my spirit—to borrow a phrase from the men who compiled those original 101 stories.

Jack and Mark believed in their dream enough to pursue it. So did I. I hope you do too.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters is now in bookstores everywhere. Check out story number 41 and let me know what you think.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What are you doing at the moment?

A dear family friend called one cold, dreary morning this winter. We chatted about our respective families and the conversation quickly worked around to the Lord. It always does with Pat Day, world-renowned thoroughbred jockey and proclaimer of the faith.

My husband, Mike, and Pat became close friends during Mike’s tenure as Chaplain on the backside of Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Over the years they have stayed in touch and continue to lift each other up with encouragement and prayer. However, on this particular day, I answered the phone.

Our discussion keyed on “quiet time” spent alone with the Lord, and Pat shared something he’d heard from a pastor.

“The only time you can be with God is in the immediate moment,” he said. “You can’t be with him five minutes ago, or five minutes from now. Only now, this instant.”

Pat’s comment opened an avenue of thought that led me to God’s timelessness. The Bible tells us Jesus is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. That’s something to count on. Jesus isn’t going to change his mind or be shifted by a cultural tide.

As occupants of this modern world, we are caught up in time and all its constraints. Though it is an intangible commodity, time drives our labor, priorities, and dreams. We have either too much of it or not enough. We spend it and save it and measure it, but we cannot grasp it.

All of us have heard the witty clich├ęs about past, present, and future, but the scripture says, “Now is the day of salvation.” This moment.

“Only now, this instant.”

So what could be more important than pausing daily to spend some of our time in the presence of the King?

Nothing comes to mind.

What are you doing at the moment?

Scripture taken from 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV)