#TellHisStory: What It Means to Serve Like Jesus

November 5, 2013 | 62 comments

“I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”

~ Jesus Christ

 

It’s been several years now, and I still don’t know her name.

That thought occurred to me just yesterday, when I drove by the scene of my accident for the first time in months.

She was the woman who stood in the ditch, while I was trapped in my broken car. She held a blanket up to cover my broken van window, to keep me warm. She stood with her back against the icy gusts, while inside, the blood ran warm down my legs.

I was in tremendous pain, and thus, never once asked her to tell me her name. And I couldn’t see her face.  

I do know this: she was wearing a skirt. I know it because someone told me later that she belonged to a church where the women adhere to particular dress codes. I think now about how that January wind must have been whipping up her skirt, gnawing at her legs, as she stood outside my shattered van window. She was both my Aaron and my Hur, holding up a blanket for how long? Thirty minutes? I don’t know.

I remember how my van landed in that ditch. I was driving south on an ice-patched highway. An oncoming car lost control and swerved into my lane. I felt my body tense as the glass shattered and the steel crumpled. The van spun. I ended up in the ditch, facing north.

I felt wind slapping my face, and that is how I knew I was alive.

I didn’t know what to pray, but perhaps in times like these, your spirit knows that the most rudimentary words are plenty sufficient. I said them over and over again, rocking back and forth against the steering wheel: Help me, God. Help me, God. Help me, God. 

No one would have blamed her if she’d driven past. Several others had already pulled over to help. She had good excuses. She was on her way to somewhere, to do a thing, to see a person.

And aren’t we all?

And she was wearing a skirt.

No one asked her to be a hero.  No one would have blamed her for driving past.

Someone told me later that she had an extra blanket in her trunk, just in case she’d ever need one.

She was an answer to my primitive prayer. She was a modern-day Good Samaritan who stood ankle-deep in snow to keep a stranger warm. I remember saying a muffled “thank you” from the warmer side of the blanket, while the paramedics tried to figure out how to extract me from the van.

Finally, the paramedics carried me through the passenger-side door on one of those stiff boards. They covered my face until they loaded me into an ambulance.

I didn’t get to see her face.

Sometimes you might never know the name of the stranger who enters your life for the sole purpose of washing your feet.

And if you’re the foot-washer, you know it before you start: they might never see your face.

But the truest saints serve anyway. The truest saints are little Jesuses, giving up position and power and comfort for the privilege to help their fellow man.

That’s what the Teacher did. He gave up heaven for the grit of earth. He walked straight out of the throne room, and picked up the basin. He was the only one in the history of forever who was worthy to be served, but this is what He did instead:

He put on an apron. He knelt. He washed feet. 

All these years later, I think about that woman with the blanket every now and again, though not as often as I should.

I suspect she watched as the ambulance drove off down that Iowa highway. I imagine her, something like a snow angel, shivering and wet as that wind whipped across an open Iowa field.

The sirens fade. She’s like a silhouette in my mind’s eye. But I see it in her hands, the blanket that hangs at her side.

If I look closely, I can—at last—see her face. She looks a lot like her Teacher.

 

#washfeet

 

Share about someone who “washed your feet.”

Related: I Saw You, Jesus

wash feet

by | November 5, 2013 | 62 comments

62 Comments

  1. Lynn Morrissey

    Beautiful, Jennifer…….and how beautiful are the feet of them…….of them who bring the Gospel of peace…..of them who live it out in thankless ways, never asking to be noticed. Who washes my feet? My husband, Michael. He listens when I pour out my soul, he comforts when I cry, he tends to me when I’m sick, he cooks and cleans and he sacrifices. I’ve never met a more generous, more compassionate footwasher. And he makes me laugh, every, single day. And I thank God for him every, single day.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’m so glad you have a husband who loves you like that. You are always pouring yourself out on others, and it makes me happy to know that you have someone in your daily life who is pouring back in…

      Say, Lynn: You are my first commenter on my new commenting system, Disqus. My web designer added the system to my blog last night. Can you tell me if the commenting system worked for you, and if you had to come back here to see if I replied to your message, or if a notice of reply appeared in your email inbox? Thank you so much for any help.

      Reply
      • Lynn Morrissey

        Thanks for your words about Mike. He’s a keeper for sure!
        I just ventured here on my own yesterday, but today, I just rec’d the email notice about the pose, but no notice about a reply.
        Also, if I am recalling correctly, I initially had trouble posting, b/c there was nowhere to enter an email address. I note that my photo does not appear, which is happening w/ some other blogs, whereas before, as at yours, it was.
        hope that helps.
        L.

        Reply
        • dukeslee

          Lynn … Thank you so much for your help. Did you get an email response when I responded back to you?

          Reply
          • Lynn Morrissey

            No, I didn’t. Is that part of what the new system is supposed to do?

          • dukeslee

            Yes, I think that’s what the system is supposed to do — send you an email. I’m checking with Shelly Miller. She’s had Disqus for a while. As for the photo, I think you have to upload that to Disqus.

  2. Barbara H.

    I am thinking that woman may have wished she could have done more, not realizing the gift that one act of service was. That’s a good reminder to me to do whatever is at hand that may be needed, large or small.

    I’ve been reading here for a few weeks due to a friend’s link-up. This is my first time to join in.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Barbara,

      I think of that kind woman every time I’m tempted to go about my own business, instead of stopping to serve someone else. Someone once said that our interruptions are often the real work that God wants us to tend to — the phone call, the person on the doorstep, the child who wants attention while we work. Too often I treat interruptions as interruptions, rather than stopping long enough to consider that perhaps God has a more important task right here, right in front of me.

      Thank you for commenting, and I’m so glad you joined in community. I look forward to reading your post. Welcome to the #TellHisStory community.

      Reply
  3. Janet

    Kindness. What a beautiful world we would be in if we all went out of our way to be kind to one another. When I picture the human Jesus, I picture kind eyes and a kind smile. I bet you do, too. I wonder if she ever saw your face…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I have wondered the same, if she saw my face. … I know that the woman lives in a neighboring community, and if I tried hard enough, I think I could track her down to thank her in person. But somehow, her anonymity seems magical. And I can only think of the face of Jesus, because I can’t see her face at all.

      Reply
  4. kendalprivette

    “She looks a lot like her Teacher.” love this end. i’ve been the helped and the helper at accidents. and i’ll never forget the people. the foot washers.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That doesn’t surprise me at all, that you’ve been a helper at accidents, Kendal. I love your beautiful heart. You are a foot washer — with words and actions.

      Reply
  5. Mia

    Dear Jennifer
    Oh, yes, our Jesus was a great NO-NO in the eyes of the religious Judaic leaders of His time. He ate and drank with the likes of us (that is now sinners!), called a drunkard and glutton, touched the lepers, allowed prostitutes to touch Him. I can just see in my minds eye how the High Priest and the Pharisees only muttered, “GROSS”. But oh, what a Savior He is and still is who serves with quite dignity and strength like this wonderful lady. I do hope you meet her one day before we all go home to Jesus!
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You know, part of me wants to meet her someday, to thank her in person, but part of me wonders if she prefers the anonymity. I could probably track her down pretty easily. I think about it sometimes, but have never done it.

      Reply
  6. Holly Solomon Barrett

    Just beautiful. I pray we all get the opportunity to serve like our Teacher.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Holly. I think we have opportunities every day, maybe not on the scene of an accident, but right in our own homes and communities. So glad you’re here, friend.

      Reply
  7. Alicia Bruxvoort

    My four-year-old’s favorite Bible story is of Jesus washing his disciples feet. She calls it the “spa story”- perfect title coming from a girl who paints her nails (and the carpet) at least twice a day. But, yesterday as we read the “spa story”, I was thinking how that little title was the worst description we could use… because going to a spa is all about indulging and being pampered and served, and when Jesus asks us to “go and do likewise”, he isn’t talking about our comfort, but our compassion, our obedience, our willing to be the face that nobody sees or remembers. Thanks for continually sharing words that spark transformation. Love my visits here!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I think it’s postively precious that your daughters calls it the “spa story.” Love her heart!

      Reply
  8. Shelly Miller

    I have these same thoughts regarding the woman who was with my daughter the day an 18 wheeler hit her. I talked to her on the phone but never met her in person at the scene of the accident. My daughter swears she saw her standing right next to me. I still wonder if she was an angel sent for such a time as this. Lovely reflection Jennifer, funny because I’m writing about her accident for a post later this week. Great minds . . .

    Reply
    • Lynn Morrissey

      I get chills reading this Shelly. She well could have been an angel. I’m so glad that God spared Murielle and sent someone to help her until you could get there.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Chills here, too … God-bumps. Good gracious.

      Can’t wait to read your post later this week, Shelly. Loved your post today, by the way.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Shelly … I’m testing something here. Would you tell me if you get an email response, letting you know that I responded to this comment? (I’m hijacking my own comment box, with all this technical stuff.) 🙂

      Reply
      • Shelly Miller

        Got it. Woohoo! you’re all Disqus’d up now. You going to love it!

        Reply
  9. Lisa notes...

    “She was on her way to somewhere, to do a thing, to see a person. And aren’t we all?”
    Oh, this should pierce deep into all of us. It does me. We chase the things we think we’re supposed to see, do, when God may be showing us who we are really supposed to see and do for.

    My husband is my foot-washer, over and over he serves me in big and small ways. He is one reason I know that grace is real.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      What an honorable thing to say about your husband. And what an honorable husband he is to treat his bride the way Christ intended. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing here.

      Reply
  10. soulstops

    Oh, Jennifer, I love reading this story, every time, about your snow angel, and how God loved you so tenderly through her…what a servant…the one who has shown me Christ’s love the most is my husband…I am blessed by his servant leadership.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      This is a repost, and I should have said so. I was so ill last night, and couldn’t muster the strength to post something new. Thanks for reading again, Dolly.

      Reply
      • soulstops

        Dear Jennifer,

        I am sorry you were ill last night, and I am sorry if my comment in any way made you feel like you had to explain it was a repost, as it was a gift to read your story, truly, again…I only used the word “again” because I remember this story as I was so touched by the woman’s kindness to you, and by how scary it must have been for you to be in that situation.

        Please don’t worry about not saying it was a repost…I enjoyed reading your post; it was and is memorable 🙂 Praying you feel better soon 🙂

        Reply
        • dukeslee

          You are so sweet. … I usually like to mention if they’re reposts. 🙂

          I”m feeling much, much better today!

          Reply
      • Lynn Morrissey

        I’m so sorry you were ill, and hope you are better. This was a first post for me, and I love it!

        Reply
  11. Lyli Dunbar

    Oh my, this made me weepy! I love it that she had a blanket in her car in case someone needed it. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Wow!

    Last year, when I was too sick to do much of anything, my best friend came over and helped me wash my hair in the sink a few times. Then, when the depression set in, I had 2 other friends who were in-between jobs, and they came and sat with me every day for over a week. We worshiped (one sister brought her guitar), prayed, played board games, and watched movies. They made me a protein -infused smoothie since I couldn’t hold down food. I will never forget their kindness.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes! The blanket! Already there! That IS what we’re called to do, right?

      So glad you have friends in your life who love on you like that. I’d be sipping smoothies with you, if we were neighbors, friend. xoxo

      Reply
  12. Lynn Morrissey

    I’m testing, Jen.

    Reply
  13. Lynn Morrissey

    Ok, I note that it posted fine, w/o my needing to put in my email address. It just says, “Post as Lynn Morrissey” in a gray box. I clicked that, and got right in, but no photo. And Jen, I could be thinking of someone else;s blog, where I couldn’t post b/c it needed my email, but then gave me no place to type it. sorry if this is confusing.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for all your help, Lynn. I hope the system here is welcoming to people, not constraining. I appreciate your input as I make decisions about that sort of thing.

      Reply
      • Lynn Morrissey

        You’re welcome! Have you any idea why my photo is not appearing? It’s not a huge deal, but I like seeing all the photos, because it makes us feel more like we are all friends having a conversation. And as for your trying to make it more convenient for commenters, that is so nice of you. Actually, I think that makes a huge difference. When posts are too miniscule to read, or background colors too dark, or you have to go through a lot of elaborate screening, it can be frustrating, and I will tend to stop interacting with them..and not because I don’t like them whatever; it’s just a struggle. This is really simple. A post is just one little cloak away. I appreciate your attention to this!
        Lynn

        Reply
        • dukeslee

          Thanks again, Lynn, for helping me. I don’t know why the photo isn’t showing up. Have you uploaded one to Disqus before? Does it show up on other sites with Disqus, such as Deidra’s or Shelly’s?

          Reply
  14. Jerri Miller

    Oh my! You brought back to remembrance 24 years ago when I was in a wreck and a stranger “just happened” to have a blanket in the car! I’m going right home to put a blanket in my trunk.

    You did an awesome job on this piece, Jennifer. I can just see that woman in my mind’s eye wearing the face of her Teacher!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Jerri … You are one of the truest angels. I could just cry reading your comment.

      Reply
  15. DeanneMoore

    Thank you Jennifer. And thank you God for your provision for Jennifer so we could read these words, be encouraged by them, and find the courage to allow You to make us people who wash the feet of others.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh friend. … thank you. #washfeet

      Reply
  16. Donna Strom

    Jennifer,
    You were that person for me earlier this year. I thought I was emailing a blog you had written to my young adult daughter who was 700 miles from home and really struggling. I put a heartfelt, mama note attached to it and sent it away with tears. But instead of going to my daughter it went back to you. You sent me a message letting me know that my email didn’t go where it was intended and then you wrote me the most amazing prayer for me and my girl. I have tears thinking about that today. I carry that prayer in my Bible and treasure it. You were definitely serving like Jesus and I so needed your kind and encouraging words and heartfelt prayer on that dark day. I am so thankful I can see your face and say “thank you.” Grace and Peace to you.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Donna … I remember you. I remember our exchange. Our prayers. Oh, friend … Thank you for this message tonight. I am absolutely in tears knowing that you carry my prayers within the Scripture. Email me at jdukeslee@gmail.com when you can. Would love to hear how you’re doing. Would love to pray again. xo

      Reply
  17. ro elliott

    Beautiful…I am fixed on the upside down kingdom…this story is a perfect example what matters in His Eyes…in His Kingdom….just a cup of cold water…a blanket held up…great will be her reward in heaven..how we forget we are storing up treasures in heaven…”delayed” applause here will thunder in heaven. Who washes my feet…I can say my dear hubby …through these 32 yrs…He over and over …kneels and washes my feet in so many big and mostly small ways …I am a blessed woman.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      “delayed” applause here will thunder in heaven.

      ^^^

      Ro!!! That rocks, right there! Yes!!!

      Reply
    • soulstops

      Ro,

      Love “delayed” applause…and I am so happy your dear hubby has been so loving.

      Reply
    • Lynn Morrissey

      I have a foot-washing husband, too, Ro. How richly blessed we are.

      Reply
  18. Amy

    Yes. Oh, how He calls us to serve like this. I have so many similar stories of my cancer journey and even today in the community of non-profit where I work, and in my home~ people who quietly, humbly, kneel and sacrifice and run from the spotlight. Thank you for this beautiful reminder

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You are one of these, Amy. I can see it in your sweet eyes. You shine.

      Reply
  19. Paula Gamble

    This is a beautiful, inspiring story, Jennifer. I think it’s cool how God takes us to places of neediness, so that we are in a position to let Him wash our feet through others. I have shielded myself from letting others serve me, and I’m thankful that He has taken me to low places where the only words I can put together like you are, “Help me, God.” And He always sends help – many times through His Saints. Thank you for this part of your story. <3

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I, too, shield myself from letting others help. Ugh! How can we let others be servants of Christ, if we’re not willing to humble ourselves enough to be served? Right? But in that ditch … I had no choice. And all these years later, the story sticks.

      Reply
  20. Kelly Greer

    Jennifer- thankful you are okay from that scary accident. What an angel that woman was! I felt like that about the nurse who took care of me after my brain surgery. She took such good care of me, I remember hearing that they were moving me from ICU to the step-down unit and I wept, and the funny thing is I had no recollection of the four previous days, yet in my heart I knew she took such good care of me. My foot washer. I don’t know her name, but I will never forget the emotion I felt when I looked upon her face that very last time. Never.
    Hugs,
    Kelly

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Just picturing you right now, makes me want to hug you friend, thinking about all you must have been going through. Glad you’re here to tell your Kingdom stories, Friend. xoxo

      Reply
    • Lynn Morrissey

      Kelly, you are a wonder. I’m so glad that that nurse took such care of you…..your footwashing angel. And I love you how care for others. Goodness, I think that you have washed many a foot! I love you.
      Lynni

      Reply
  21. Rina

    This brought me to the brink of tears. I love that good “Samaritan” woman in your story. The Lord bless her. And I hope there’s more like her around. There have been many angels in my ailing life. But the one that remained, who sacrifices minutes of precious sleep to massage my atrophied legs; who comes home from work earlier than usual to bathe me or wash my hair, etc. etc. — is the man I said, “Yes, I do” to over a decade ago.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Wonderful. What a blessed woman you are. xo

      Reply
  22. Nancy Ruegg

    Such a powerful reminder to stay alert for the Spirit’s promptings. Thank you, Jennifer.

    Lord, help me be ready to serve–wherever and whenever.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Glad you’re here. Always appreciate your kind words in the comment box, friend. Have a great weekend, and may He reveal opportunities for us to serve like Him.

      Reply
  23. Sharon Brobst

    I always love coming here. The tender heart. Compassion. Love. He is here.

    I have had those in my life who have stood outside, with great sacrifice, in order to protect me, to encourage me and help me live. They have been Jesus…I want to serve like Jesus.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for stopping by Sharon, your encouragement and kindness mean so much.

      I’m glad you have people in your life who have demonstrated sacrifice. You are blessed!

      Reply
  24. Laurie Collett

    So beautiful, Jennifer! You will see her again in Heaven, and thank her for her selfless grace. Thanks for the inspiring post & for hosting & God bless,
    Laurie
    http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. To see life and to see it whole - - […] may not have had my feet washed recently or been the recipient of freely given help and kindness from a…

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