“…one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty” Proverbs 11:25
I returned from Bath, England, today after a week-long retreat with a dozen and a half other women, all of us studying in a Bible course together. Each morning during the retreat began with a 3-hour lesson and then we had the rest of the day off to tour the beautiful city of Bath and its remarkable surroundings. The studies were good and focused and the content stimulated deep discussion and openness in a level that would not have been reached had we done the course over a period of several weeks here in Israel. Staying with such a closely-knit group of women who knew each other, some more and some less, and doing a variety of activities together, was a unique an extremely rewarding experience.
The main focus of the course was leadership and women’s ministries. As the lessons progressed, so did the level of openness with each other. As our time in Bath drew near to the end, many of the women shared how this time was such a blessing for them that they felt their feet had been washed. Some shared that they felt they were able to speak about personal things in a very comfortable and accepting way that they couldn’t do before. They felt that being so busy serving and ministering to others, this week provided them with the opportunity to be ministered to. Our lovely and gracious hosts in Bath, as well as people that serve in the local congregation there, literally went out of their way to spend time with us, take us places and even drive us when our taxi didn’t arrive. We also had a chance to participate in the meeting of the congregation this past week and met many brethren from different places, which was a great joy.
The washing of feet wasn’t literal, of course. We didn’t have a basin with water and a towel for each person’s feet to be washed. Although the thought of washing of feet had crossed some women’s minds before coming, in the sense that they hoped this would be such an experience for the women, they didn’t realize how profound our time together was. The place where we stayed was called “Waterhouse” – a very fitting name for a hotel in Bath, but even more fitting because it became a place this week where feet were washed spiritually. All of us, the women in our group, as well as our hosts, felt encouraged by each other and by the fellowship. Serving the Lord and serving others in the Lord, is both a blessing and an honor. Still, times of rest and refreshment are needed. The Scriptures instruct us in the importance of rest, both physical and spiritual. We were all were given a time to rest emotionally and spiritually, as we focused on spending time with each other, enjoying fellowship and simply having fun.
The local believers gave of themselves to bless us for a full week. It was simply amazing and deeply appreciated, as they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by the grace of God. Their hospitality and love was evident through everything they did and, in a way, they washed the feet of our group, who came to Bath for study and for fellowship. What happens when feet are washed? I believe both those who do the washing and those whose feet are washed, are encouraged, blessed and strengthened for the continued walking and running they have to do. Washing of feet isn’t a one time act. It needs to be done regularly. As we walk in this earth and our feet get dirty, even hurt and wounded sometimes, we need others to come alongside us and help us rest and to prepare for the continued race ahead. Many times those who have a gift of serving others will be attentive to the need to wash the feet of others, but they themselves need times of refreshing and encouragement too. The world leaves its dust on us daily and often we wonder why, at the end of the day, we feel as though we have been in a fight. Maybe the race feels too long and too hard today, with no end in sight. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord and ask Him to bring someone to wash our feet, to help you in this journey. Maybe He’ll encourage us to wash the feet of someone else. Washing of feet can also be accomplished through serving others, showing kindness, love, care, giving a kind word or even just an attentive ear. A timely word goes a long way and listening ears may be just what the other person needed. There are so many ways to do that. May we all be aware of our family in Messiah and be willing to serve others with love and joy to wash their feet, being mindful of the fact that ours may also be washed in the process.
Picture taken by Heidi L.