Motherhood puts my people-pleasing-talents to the test. Melting back into the couch cushions, knees to my chest, I pray to turn this burden over to the Lord. It’s hard to be a people-pleaser who can’t keep up the pace.
For one thing, I have two little children who’ve taken to heart the words of the old song: “Make all my wants and wishes known.” There’s no way one tired mama can (or should) fulfill all their wants and wishes. And yet, I end each day feeling the weight of not being enough for them.
But now a new guilt steals over me. Here I am, the end of the day, and I’m just now taking this to the Lord in prayer. God gets my leftovers again, and my spiritual life feels like one more demand I can’t satisfy, one more person wanting a piece of me. I’m not sure how to find the desire and the joy of spending time with him.
In tears I express my frustrations to my husband. He reminds me that while the kids and the house and bills and unreturned phone calls all feel like they’re screaming for a piece of me, God is different. God has no void in himself he needs me to fill. God loves me and is my strong support and help.
As the line in the well-worn hymn foretells, “Christ will gird himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.”
That line makes me uncomfortable.
No. No, no, no. Christ doesn’t put on an apron and serve me! You won’t find me resting on my achievements while Jesus is up doing the work!
In John 13, on the evening of his betrayal, Jesus’ disciples winced at this idea, as Jesus gathered the supplies of the lowliest slave and began washing grown men’s feet.
“Lord, do you wash my feet? You shall never wash my feet” (John 13:6).
And just like Peter, I too balk at the idea that I would sit still at a low, wooden table and let Jesus serve me food and drink, and then wash my feet. No! The idea feels all wrong! The one whose sandal strap I’m not even worthy to untie, he would tend and care for my feet?!
“If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8).
That truth that God is “not served by human hands” is a hard pill for this approval-craving-junkie to swallow. My flesh—pride—winces as the Word of God discerns the thoughts and intentions of my heart.
And yet, relief floods my soul. This gospel is really true: there’s a place I can go to drink, to eat, to lean, to rest. There’s a strong, able, saving God who is not needy. He shows his strength to any needy mother who leans, trusts, and rests in him for help.
It’s a glorious thing to curl up on the couch at night and lean into the bosom of one who doesn’t demand a piece of me, doesn’t have a void that he needs for me to fill, doesn’t have a need for me to supply.
It’s upside-down. It’s revolutionary. This isn’t a God with lack who needs me to give my life for him. This is a God who gave his life for me.
Jesus is a Savior who not only cleans people’s dirty feet but washes their hearts and births them into new life in the Spirit. He’s a miracle-working, helping, supporting master who comes inside and changes us. He changes our want-tos and lets us enter into the rest of the one who finished his work. He calls us to come and receive the work of the cross that dealt with our sin, shame, and inadequacies.
The whole Christian life is an offer for us to come and receive. An offer to follow in the way of our foot-washing-Savior. At no cost, God invites us to bring our sin, our needs, and our emptiness in exchange for his salvation, strength, and rest. Come and drink—the fountain is Jesus. Come and eat—the bread of life is Jesus. Come and live—Jesus is life.