John 13:21 – After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
Although more than forty years have passed, I remember the exact day I began to recognize God’s plan for my life. I was fifteen years old and attending a youth retreat at Lake Junaluska when that plan was revealed to me in a very real way. I remember one specific moment during that week when I became overwhelmed. I couldn’t name it then like I can name it today, but at the time it could only be described as a warmth of my soul. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but I knew I wanted more of it. Deep inside of me, I heard my name being called. God had a plan.
My experience faded to the back of memories for a couple of years until I was eighteen, and I realized that God had so much in store for me. It was God’s voice that said “work for Me and I will take care of you.” So I worked – I volunteered here and there on special projects, singing in the choir, attending UMW meetings and never missing a Sunday. The voice never stopped calling, but I wasn’t being still enough to listen. I had convinced myself that I was following the right course, but God had a plan.
For years, I continued to hear “work for Me and I will take care of you.” For years I said “I’m working, I’m working.” Music director, youth worker, UMW, choirs, handbells, children’s Sunday School teacher, VBS director, and committee after committee after committee, chair after chair – the list of jobs seemed endless, and I certainly was working. I was doing everything I was qualified to do. I just couldn’t do any more because I just didn’t know how.
But the Spirit of God did not wash over me when I worked. During all those years of work, the Spirit of God visited when I was alone and quiet and listening. I began to understand little by little that God had a plan and there was more to it. My path and God’s path had crossed many times, but I was denying my call, being disloyal. This was my own form of betrayal, and the time had come to leave my path completely. God called my name with expectation; now I would listen and now I would respond. I would trust that God really would provide for me because God had a plan – and that plan was to serve.
In the Gospel of John, we hear how Jesus took on the role of a servant when he knelt before each of the disciples and washed his feet. The men had walked the two miles from Jerusalem so they were surely dirty, smelly and sweaty. His willingness to care for them in this way paved the path they were to follow – the same path we are to follow. In that one simple gesture, Jesus modeled for us how to love: we put aside our importance and simply take care of someone else. We love with no regard for our status or reputation. God’s plan for us is to serve.
On this Holy Wednesday, may I move even farther away from acts of betrayal. May I move through this week with over forty years of purpose in my heart – the purpose of serving God and others in love – for this is God’s plan.
Following the plan and serving in love,
PRAYER FROM JOHN 12
Forgiving God, thank you for loving me even in my betrayal. May I never deny you as I journey alongside you. As I serve others, may I follow your plan. Amen.