Recently Ruthie and I were impacted by a profound experience we read about in a book. The truth God showed the author of this book has somewhat changed the way Ruthie and I approach God. It has given us a fresh understanding of our value to God, and also, a renewed understanding of God’s plan for His people.
When I was at college, working evening security in one of our Liberty Baptist College buildings (now Liberty University), my job was simple: make rounds every hour, and sit by the entrance and make sure everyone coming through the doors had permission to enter. My thrills came when the founder, Jerry Falwell, would pass by and greet me by name. I had lots of time to do homework, memorize verses, and read books. My best memory was the day I read, on the job, Merlin Carothers’ book, Power in Praise. The book gave me a motivation to praise God like nothing I had ever read. His books have sold gazillions of copies in many languages. I remember one time I was doing my rounds and I couldn’t stop praising God. It was like I was injected with a spirit of praise.
Recently, a friend recommended that Ruthie read another one of Merlin’s book Prison to Praise. Like me, Ruthie was impacted by the power of praising God, and the results it brings. One night Ruthie, after having sinned by drinking a coffee milkshake in the evening, was unable to fall asleep. This was a perfect time to continue reading this book, and be with the Lord. The whole book was life-giving to Ruthie, but there was one particular story in the book that blew her away, in a wonderful way, and did the same to me when she shared it with me:
Merlin told about at the time he felt an impression, at his prayer group, to ask the group to surround him in prayer. Someone asked what he wanted them to ask God for. Merlin writes: “I thought for a moment. ‘Ask God to use me more than ever,’ I said. They began to pray, and suddenly, in the Spirit, I saw Jesus kneeling before me. He was holding my feet and resting His head on my knees. He said:
‘I don’t want to use you. I want you to use me!’
It was as if a door had opened into a new understanding of Jesus. He told the disciples that they had to permit Him to kneel before them while He washed their feet. He wants to give Himself for us each moment of our lives just as completely as He gave Himself on the cross. We have nothing to give Him; we have only to receive of Him!”
The week after reading Merlin’s vision, I shared it as part of my message at church. I told our church, as powerfully as Jesus made a point by washing the disciple’s feet, commonly we still serve Him as if He, Jesus, sat on the chair and commanded US to wash HIS feet! What He does by washing OUR feet creates a paradoxical mindset that is hard to wrap our brain around. Jesus came to SERVE, according to many verses, but primarily Philippians 2:7, where we are told that Jesus made himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant.
“I don’t want to use you. I want you to use me!” Profound. True. Unworthy as we feel, what a revelation of our value and also our authority as we partner with God living through us. What a concept that stands in the face of so much of what we’ve been taught! Once I was prophesied over by a man I respect. He said, “You are waiting on God, but God says, I am waiting on you!”
Are we like Peter, in John 13:8, who reacted to Jesus washing his feet by proclaiming, “You shall never wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
Did you get that? We must receive from Him. We will miss it if we, perhaps out of noble, but misguided intentions, are continually washing the feet of Jesus. If we don’t let Him wash our feet—to serve us, to let us use Him, we will have no part with Him. Believe me, going here obliterates any form of false humility and pious religiosity. Take Jesus up on His offer, and let Him wash your feet! What do you need? How can He clean you up? Even change your life?
Even when we gather with the church to worship—how often have you heard—it’s all about you, Jesus? And I’m certainly not saying that is wrong. He is preeminent. All things are by Him and for Him. But in light of that, we can’t forget that He came, and comes, to serve us, and, whether it makes spiritual sense to us at all, from His standpoint—it’s all about us—as we live to glorify Him in all we say and do.
Stop. Meditate. Don’t be like Peter, grand as it seems. But tap into the glory of what Jesus came to do to and through each one of us.