Faith Stories: Obedience
I woke up very early from a deep sleep this morning. I immediately had one thought on my mind, and I knew it was God … messing with me … again. All I could think of was “obedience.”
Today is Maundy Thursday, and Pastor Juan is planning a special service at the Shepherd’s Market. The service will include Holy Communion and foot washing. As soon as I heard of the plans, I thought: “Communion is fine with me, but foot washing is not my thing!” I began to make plans to skip that part if I could. But then, God woke me up at 4:00 a.m. with “obedience” on my mind. I got out of bed, poured some coffee and sat down to read my daily devotionals in my quiet spot. Guess what the major theme was in my devotionals for today? That’s right — “obedience” ran throughout each reading, and not one but three of the devotionals talked about foot washing! Wow. At 7:00 a.m., I decided it was time to head over to the pantry to get ready for today’s shift.
All of St. John’s members were invited to attend the special service at 8:45 a.m. in the gym, along with the pantry clients that would be coming for food this day. Some of the volunteers planned an extra special breakfast, complete with pretty Easter decorations set on the tables. When I arrived and saw how nice everything looked, I was once again struck by the devotion and love expressed by our pantry volunteers, who arrive very early and work so hard to serve the pantry families with dignity and respect. St. John’s members began to arrive — both to volunteer and to worship at the special service. I sat and ate with some pantry families and caught up with what was going on in their lives.
After breakfast, I nervously looked around and saw the foot-washing stations, and I thought about my exit plan. Wouldn’t you know, Pastor Juan asked me to help serve communion, which made it hard to execute my plan to skip out early! The service was so moving and powerful. I saw many teary eyes as I served our neighbors while they stood in a huge circle around our gym. When I finished serving communion, my eyes were drawn to the line of people waiting for their turn … where Pastor Juan and Deacon Sarah were kneeling and humbly washing feet to all who came. I said my goodbyes to a few people, walked toward the door to head out to work, but then, inexplicably, I turned around with the thought, “why not give it a try?”
As Pastor Juan washed my feet, he sang softly and then he said that he remembered the day that I came into his office and I decided to be obedient to God’s nudging to open a food pantry at St. John’s. There was that word again. Now I was the one with tears in my eyes. Pastor Juan said a lot of other things as I sat there, but the one word that kept rolling around in my head was “obedience.”
I was blessed this morning by participating in my first foot washing. I was blessed because I listened to God’s nudging. And I was blessed by the message of affirmation from Pastor Juan, who could not have possibly known the word that I obviously needed to hear today — “obedience.”
“Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)