By: Jana Greene
Years ago, a friend had given me a gift certificate for a pedicure at a local nail salon. Andrew, a nice gentleman from Vietnam, would do the dirty work – my feet were a mess. First he ran a very warm foot bath and instructed me to relax while enjoying the gentle jets.
But I was not relaxed; I became more nervous as he lined up the implements of pedicures by the side of the tub: lotions and oils, pumice stones and cuticle sticks. After a while, he lifted one foot at a time and placed it on a towel on his knee.
I’d never had a pedicure, and it was a humbling experience so far. I was so embarrassed.
Living near the beach, I had become accustomed to staying either barefoot, or in a pair of well-worn leather sandals, and the soles of my feet were calloused and cracked from not wearing shoes. As Andrew rubbed oil into each foot, I began apologizing.
“I know my feet are in bad shape,” I said quietly. “I’m sorry they are so rough.”
To which he replied bluntly in a clipped Vietnamese accent: “That’s why you come here! Why would you come if feet were perfect?” He scrubbed with the pumice until my heels were smooth and painted my nails a warm sunset orange. By the time he was done, I felt restored and (dare I say?) relaxed.
And a little silly that I apologized about my feet during a pedicure!
Walking out of the salon on “new feet”, I thought about Jesus’s washing the feet of his disciples. I love that story:
“So, he (Jesus) got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.” – John 13:5-6 (MSG)
If it were embarrassing for Andrew to wash my feet, I cannot imagine the Son of God bending down to do the task! God incarnate, serving! So that we would learn how to serve. He even washed the feet of Judas, whom he knew would betray him in a matter of hours. So humbling.
Humbling doesn’t usually feel restorative, but it often is.
There is a young lady I know who is struggling with coming to church, wrestling with believing in God at all. She wants badly to stop hurting but asserts that she is just not there yet, not quite ready to make herself vulnerable enough to allow Jesus in.
She says she has done a lot of bad things, and that she is in rough shape. A part of her still likes those bad things, I suspect – and she isn’t sure she wants the calluses pumiced down by “religion”, because of the tenderness under the surface. It’s so much easier to throw a coat of paint on something and make it look alright. Religion can be superficial; a relationship with the God who bends down to where you are? That is deep and powerful.
I want to say, like Andrew the Pedicurist, “Why would you come if you were perfect?” Being in bad shape, rough around the edges, makes you the perfect candidate for Jesus to wash your feet!
To wash your soul and to restore you, right where you are.
That’s why you are here.