One of my most memorable foot-washing experiences was at a Women's Outreach Retreat that our church used to hold annually. Each year over 90 women would gather for a Friday-Sunday weekend where we had a speaker, break out sessions, a prayer walk as well as some fun/relax times. Each year we would prayerfully plan the retreat with a focus on Saturday evening being our powerful evening.
One year, we felt God leading us to wash the feet of the women. Each leader would wash the feet of 10-12 ladies in a circle. While we thought this would be a powerful moment, we were not ready for the movement of the Holy Spirit, which fell upon us. As I knelt before the women I was leading, I was overwhelmed. I caught a small glimpse of what Christ might have felt when washing the feet of his disciples. I loved these women, but this act made love even more profound. Tears began to flow where I couldn't control it anymore. The power and the love were so intense I almost couldn't wash their feet until I had a moment to pause. Embarrassed by myself, I looked at the other outreach leaders and saw the same overwhelming emotion coming from each of them as well. The room of 90 women became reverent and hushed as we washed their feet. Tears flowed from their eyes as well.
At the beginning of the gathering, we read from John 13:
"It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."
One of our leaders shared that at this moment, Jesus could have done anything — or said anything — to his disciples. He chose to show the full extent of his love for them; he washed their feet. We asked them to not look at us but to picture Jesus as washing their feet showing them His love for them personally. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so evident and tangible in that room to all who were there. After we finished, we sat not at the feet of one another, but at the feet of Christ for moments that lingered. When this moment was over the ladies began to talk and one suggested they wash our (the leaders) feet as well. Again the tears and love poured forth as we received the full extent of the love of Christ ourselves. It was a moment I will never forget. One that still brings tears to my eyes, not because of what we did, but because of the love Christ has for us. The practice of washing feet is a reminder that He loves us. He died for us. He rose again, and He continually works salvation out in us in a loving manner. There will be a day that instead of hugging a sister or brother in Christ, that we will hug Him to the full extent of our love for Him.