May 21, 2019
Ambushed by Grace!
On a summer evening in 1996, Jesus ambushed me in my bedroom. Some of you might not know what an ambush is, so let me try to explain. “Ambush” is a military term that describes the process of creating an environment that appears safe, but is ultimately dangerous. When the target of an ambush steps into this seemingly safe environment, the usual outcome is that the target’s life will dramatically change course. Ambush is often used to describe how certain predators in the animal kingdom lie in wait, sometimes taking on the characteristics of their surroundings. When their unwitting prey comes by, it becomes a very quick meal for the predator.
Jesus was the absolute Mastermind of my ambush. Beforehand, I was simply going about my life, working, raising our kids, and going to church on Sundays. Why was I doing all those things? Well, mainly because I enjoyed them. But they were the “right things” to be doing, and at least I was giving a good impression. I felt safe because I made my own safety net but didn’t realize my self-made one was faulty, unlike God’s all-powerful safety net. (Don’t we all think we can take care of ourselves better than anyone else could?) This is when the ambush occurred.
At the time I had a full-blown case of Hepatitis. I was so weak that I barely walked for 3 weeks. I had glow-in-the-dark yellow skin and eyes. Guys from my men’s group came to do yard work at the house because I was so weak. I felt they were insulting my manhood, because I am a man and can take care of my own house. My good friend Les really called me out for being so prideful and depriving them of the opportunity to serve God by blessing me with their help.
Then, on that Sunday morning in July, a powerful event happened in church. The pastor preached the story about Jesus washing the disciple’s feet from John 13. Remember Peter’s reaction in that story? “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” We’re not exactly sure why Peter objected to the foot washing, but I believe that it was a combination of Peter’s concern for appearance (surely Jesus shouldn’t wash my feet), and his arrogance (why do my feet need to be washed anyway?).
That was the beginning the ambush Jesus set up for me. I thought about that story all day and finally it hit me in bed that evening. I was just like Peter! All my life, I was “this close” to Jesus and I never let him wash my feet. I wasn’t letting Him serve me and I hadn’t fully accepted His love for me. With the trap fully set, the “Master of Ambush” awaited my response. That night, in my heart, I allowed Jesus to wash my feet for the very first time.
Tears of joy streamed down my face as I laughed and laughed. I didn’t understand it then, but that was a moment of significant awakening and change for me. Since that evening in 1996, whenever my spiritual well runs dry and I’m not sensing the presence of God in my life, I return to John chapter 13. The story helps me to remember that allowing Jesus to serve us in His way, not in our way, is the only means to glimpse His great love for us.
Today, if you are feeling that God is far away from you, or if you just need a fresh sense of his presence in your life, remember that the Master of Ambush lies in wait. He has a towel wrapped around his waist and a pot of water in hands. He is waiting for you to let Him serve you. Allow Him to wash your feet, and then respond by washing someone else’s feet, serving them as Jesus served you. This is the first step toward a renewed and strengthened faith that will result in a greater love for God and a more caring heart for people. Whether you let Jesus wash your feet, or you continually try, without success, to wash your own feet is your decision, so choose well.
Gracious God, how thankful we are that You sent Your only son to Earth to love us unconditionally and to show us how to love each other. Jesus is truly the Master of Ambush and he waits patiently to capture the hearts of all the people that You chose to call to Yourself. Help each of us to understand this truth fully by placing within us the desire to allow Jesus to serve us. As Jesus serves us, put within us the motivation to serve others in Your name, dear Father. Allow me and all who read this to feel Your love and Your presence in a way that draws us nearer to You so that we may be more like your Son. I pray this in the name of the One whose ambush saved my life, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:12-15