Washing Feet

As I sat and began to write this week, I came across a story that floored me. I want to share it with you today:

It was a rainy bone-chilling night. A young seminary student was working in a homeless shelter, which housed over 100 persons, and on this cold evening, even more had come to be housed than there were cots or mats.

As often happens when there is a shortage, disagreements broke out. The minority groups argued that they were not being fairly treated. It was beginning to look like emotions were getting out of hand – more than the employee, the young seminary student, in charge could handle.

Then the door opened and in stumbled a tattered man. With the unsteady gate of the inebriated, he managed to get to a mat in the middle of the room, plop down, pull off his boots, and immediately go to sleep.

Just as quickly everyone in the room became acutely aware of the stench from those boots and feet. Someone suggested that he be taken to the shower. It was impossible to awaken him. “Well,” someone stated, “then, carry him to the shower.” But he weighed over 200 lbs.

Then the seminary student thought of washing the feet where he was. No basin was available; so he went to the kitchen, found a bowl that he filled with warm water. The only soap quickly available was the lemon-scented dish soap, so he put that in the water. Finding a towel, he took the towel and water to the sleeping odoriferous man.

Kneeling beside him, he requested that someone take the boots outside to air. Then he began trying to take off the encrusted socks. He finally managed, and sent them to the garbage outside the building. Then one by one, he put the man’s feet in the bowl and gently washed away the grime from his feet and ankles. The lemon scent from the soap helped the smell little. The water quickly became black.

The seminary student was almost finished when he happened to glance to see that he was surrounded. He obviously was the center of attention. What would be their response?

Completing his task, he slowly rose. The first face he noticed was a black man who normally wore a scowl. He was smiling, and then he saw that everyone else was smiling also. Some, who had taken both a mat and a cot, now shared the mat with someone who had none. In a spirit of helpfulness, everyone settled down to sleep, having received the greatest sermon this young preacher might ever preach. – Author Unknown

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” I think this story today should put us in the mindset that we can truly see what God is trying to accomplish.

Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in this same type of act; and, when finished he asked them if they knew what He had done (John 13). We may not be understood, but we will receive blessing from serving others.   “Wash” someone’s feet today!


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