Guest post by Rev. Dr. Chris Carter, Senior Associate Pastor and Executive Director, Men & Senior Adults
Towels come in many sizes and styles and are useful in many ways. Just think about it: There are hand towels, bath towels, kitchen towels, shop towels, paper towels (which aren’t as easy to find these days), beach towels and sweat towels. Can you imagine a life without towels?
In John 13, Jesus teaches His disciples about the most important kind of towel, the servant’s towel. The servant’s towel is Jesus’ favorite towel.
The disciples were alarmed when they arrived at the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover with the Master, but the host who had granted the room failed to show up. There was no servant to wash their feet. Who would do it?
They were shocked when Jesus became the servant. The text says “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:4-5).
Imagine — He who framed the universe was willing to take the dirty feet of His disciples in His own hands, wash them and dry them. Jesus showed us through this act of loving, humble service the power of the towel. And He says, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). Jesus wants to make sure our theology always includes a basin and a towel.
Imagine a life not all wrapped up in self, not always self-preoccupied with self-preservation. Imagine a life not self-promotional but fully devotional, so filled with love that we become free samples of Jesus’ sacrificial heart to others.
I have found the most desperate times of my life have been those when the eyes of my attention have been self-focused on myself, my ministry, my marriage, my miseries and my messes. Those are the times when I have felt most ready to throw in the towel, to give up, or to run away. As Jesus faced His Cross and circumstances grew tougher, He focused the eyes of His attention on His Father and on us. He didn’t throw in the towel, but He used it!
Maybe this is a tough time for you. Your circumstances are weighing you down. Your heart is hurting. Your eyes are filled with tears. You are tempted to throw in the towel.
Don’t do it; use it! Ask God to help you dry someone else’s tears and God will dry yours.
In the hardest times, the way we use our towel says so much more than our talk.
You know, Lord, how I serve You
With great emotional fervor
In the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for You
At the women’s & men’s clubs.
You know how I effervesce when I promote
A small group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm
At a Bible study.
But how would I react, I wonder
If You pointed to a basin of water
And asked me to wash the calloused feet
Of a bent and wrinkled old woman
Day after day
Month after month
In a room where nobody saw
And nobody knew.
(Ruth Harms Calkin, Tell Me Again, Lord, I Forget)