Modern Day Foot Washing

Jesus started a tradition in the church called foot washing.  In his day, whenever a stranger entered a home, their feet were dusty and dirty. The host would then wash their guest’s feet.  Jesus took this simple act of service to a whole new level.  I have participated in these services both as a foot washer and as a person who had their feet washed.  My confession is that my Scandinavian modesty gets the best of me and I do not always find the experience of being washed or washing as holy as I would like it to be…sinful man that I am.

Recently I had a Holy experience involving the feet. A colleague came over early one morning. We love each other. We talk about Jesus and his church. What it is like and what it can be. How it has helped people and how it can do more.  We talk about the loves in our lives – our spouses, children and grandchildren and more. Because we have worked together before, he was early.  Because God seems to go according to God’s schedule and not mine, I was late.   Because he is who he is, he waited patiently for me.  Things were going fine until it came time to put on my compression socks.  Compression socks are tight fitting socks that help your circulation.  Compression socks are difficult to put on.  They are so difficult that they can even elicit swear words as one is trying to put them on.  It was right at the moment that we were putting on the compression socks that I asked my friend to come in and help me.  Because he is healthy, strong and had worked as a personal care attendant for years, he knew just what to do.  Skillfully and effortlessly he slid them on.  As Ruth watched this she smiled at us and said “Wow, modern day foot washing”. She was right!

It is in the selfless acts of service that God’s love most shines.  I could go on and on about the  people who God sends to us.  One person regularly drove from Bloomington to Rochester to shave me because he knew I needed it.  Each shave was “Holy” and took a long time because of my tender skin and all of the medical equipment that was in the way.  He would have to navigate around both my trachea and my tears.  At the end of the night, after a full day of work, he would shave me and drive back home, exhausted only to rise again to do it again.

My brother, who has a bigger heart and faith than anyone would know, gives me showers and returns at night to get me ready for bed. My wonderful wife, who helps edits my dyslexic brain tumored writings, sends them out.  Without Ruth you would not be receiving these messages.  The woman who faithfully makes meals every week and the oncologist who makes house calls are amazing.

For years I have said “Little things are big things”.  The gift of my tumor has taught me that this is true and helps make “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”.  John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can”. Brilliant advice! Everyday this is more apparent to me. The Gustavus Adolphus College students who sang my favorite song “I want my life to make a Difference” all touched my heart.  My colleagues who brought me garlic bread from Murray’s, followed by a friend who drove from Grand Marais to deliver homemade lefse all have ministered to me.  And then there is the young woman who faithfully sends me a link to a new Christian song each day to touch my soul.

I could go on and on about how God can use you to be a modern day foot washer. Just be you. Follow the Spirit and your heart and the world will be more like the world Jesus called us to create on earth, which is why we are here.  The greatest act of selfless love I have recently experienced was my two-and-a-half year old grandson Connor insisting he share his chicken McNuggets with me as we snuggled and watched our favorite TV show Paw Patrol.  He knew I was sick so he wanted to do something for me to make me feel better. Then he asked me, “Are you OK Pop?” as he looked at me with his beautiful blue eyes. If Connor can be a modern day foot washer, so can you.

I cannot possibly thank all of you for how you have prayed, sent a card and let us know that you love us.  Little things are big things to God and to those that God loves most – God’s children.  A kind word, a note, or, in this techno-spiritual world – a text note, matter to people and so matter to God.

Many of you have gone to great lengths to let me know you appreciate this ministry. Bless you.  I am convinced that God uses us most when we are dying, as we all are. Let God use you and do some modern day foot washing.

Speaking of dying, it has been an interesting week. On Tuesday I had chest pain and trouble breathing and was blessed by an ambulance crew at our home.  It turns out that I had lung, blood and other infections. An MRI has revealed that my tumor has further spread and is growing in a couple spots down my spine.  I have started my third round of radiation. I appreciate your understanding that cannot receive visitors.

Blessings to you. Together, let us wash some feet, look upward travel onward and not be afraid”.

Love you,


5 thoughts on “Modern Day Foot Washing

  1. I love this post. I truly believe the little things are the big things. We all need to remember to thank those who bless our days! Thanks John. Big Prayers for healing and comfort coming your way. MERRY CHRISTMAS and GOD BLESS!


  2. This is so beautiful…I have been so touched by your words and knowing the journey you are on. God is using you powerfully. Praying for every day God gives you this side of Heaven to do HIS will. One day you will hear Him speak…Well done thou good and faithful servant.
    P.S. I know that “young woman” who sends you the songs. She speaks so highly of you and the friendship you share.


  3. John, You have made a huge difference in so many lives.Remember when we chose the word “proclaim?” You have proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ on bad days as well as good, in bad weeks and months as well as good! The strength that God has given you to do this is amazing. You are one of those “larger than life” people in my life and to say that YOU HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE is an enormous understatement! God loves you, I love you, thousands of people love you.


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