Hands Washing Feet . . . Eyes Shedding Tears . . . Road to Forgiveness

Dr. Eric HaskinsLenten Journey 2016, Ponderings1 Comment

Iwoke up with every intention to follow through on my commitment to wash my wife’s feet, as a living illustration during the Maundy Thursday service that evening. However, God woke me with a different plan . . . a much harder plan.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. (John 13:1-3)

I remember waking up that Maundy Thursday morning and having the strongest - on the verge of the verbal - impression that startled me, “Wash your Dad’s feet.” When I told my wife, she immediately sat down knowing the enormity of what I was saying. My Dad was an alcoholic. Those of you who have an alcoholic parent know the enormity of that particular adjective.

So [Jesus] got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:4-5)

I vividly remember calling my Dad that morning asking if I could wash his feet. By the cracking and pitching of his voice over the phone, I knew my Dad understood what I was asking. And what I was asking was really, "will you allow me to forgive you?" Or perhaps stated more honestly, I was finally ready to allow God to continue the process of forgiveness, in my life, towards my Dad.

After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (John 13:12-15)

As we were on stage that evening, eyes filled with tears, with my dad’s big feet in my hands, I will never forget the look of hope, peace and love that shown from his weepy eyes. I’ll never forget how hard and freeing it was to say in that moment, in that way, “Dad, I love you and forgive you.”

I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. (John 13:16-17)

One of the contributing factors in my Dad's death, in 2007, was his alcoholism. Yet, this moment has become one of my most cherished memories. Have I completely forgiven my Dad? Mostly, but there is still more washing God needs to do in my life, as I submit to Christ’s washing work of my heart.

  • Review

    What surprises, concerns, excites, bewilders you about the opening quote from Alicia Britt Chole, Eric’s story, or the Scripture passage?

  • Reflect

    Whose feet is God prompting you to wash? What is stopping you? How can you take the next step towards washing and forgiveness?

  • Respond

    Maundy Thursday is on March 24th this year. Plan on participating in a Maundy Thursday worship experience that allows you to receive or offer a foot washing.

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