There was a time in my life when the bathtub was my evening friend. I would turn on the hot water, pour in the liquid bubbles, and fill the tub until it was almost overflowing. Then I would climb in and soak until my fingers resembled white raisins and I was shivering from the decrease in water temperature.
As I got older, the bathtub was replaced with the much-quicker shower, since I had places to go and things to do and no longer had the time to sit and soak. It was possible to get through the shower, washed and dried, in less time than it would take me to run my bath water, and time was of the essence when chores needed to be completed before evening activities began, and a good cleansing was needed in between. Now as an adult, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I sat in a tub.
My wash habits could be compared to the time I spend in God’s Word. In 2019, I was committed to reading through the Bible in a year and I followed a reading plan that showered me in large chunks of scripture. It was refreshing in many ways, but there was little time to sit and soak in a particular passage.
But this year I’m sitting in the tub, so to speak, with just a few verses each day and soaking it in. During Lent I have been using the book “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Cole as my guide. In the first day’s reading she petitions her readers to “consider Lent as less of a project and more of a sojourn. A sojourn is a “temporary place to stay.” And a “stay” is about presence not productivity.” The author also suggests “invest your energy in seeking to remain present to the sacred history of Jesus’ walk to the cross. With each reading [of scripture], dust off your childhood imagination and “stay” in each story. Observe Jesus… Imagine yourself… and fast from Lent as a project and enter Lent as an experience, as a sojourn with your Savior.”
So each day I’ve been doing a little soaking in the book of John. The first day felt awkward, sitting in the home with Martha and Lazarus after he had recently been raised from the dead. It was captivating to visualize the bond of love between them and Jesus. Of course, Martha used her gifts of service and hospitality. And then Mary entered the scene, washing Jesus’ feet with an intoxicating perfume and drying his feet with her hair. I felt like I should avert my eyes, look away, but I couldn’t keep myself from staring at the beauty of it all, until Judas’ cold remarks cut through the aroma in the room like a knife.
Another day I mingled with the disciples while getting ready for the evening meal, when Jesus, our Master, prepared the bath water and began washing OUR feet and becoming as a servant to us. Peter threw a fit, but spoke aloud what all of us were thinking. Jesus continued with the task at hand, washing all of our feet… Peter, James, John, Judas, and the rest. And oh, to imagine Jesus holding the feet of Judas in his hands, knowing what was to come, burdened, sad, but still tenderly and lovingly washing his feet. My mind jerked ahead to the death of Judas, his betrayer, and I wondered if Jesus mourned the death of Judas as his companion.
It has been good to soak in the stories of Jesus during this first week of Lent. I would encourage you to do the same. As we approach Resurrection Sunday, knowing how the events unfold, try pretending that you don’t. Sit with Jesus for awhile and let him speak to you and experience the events leading up to Easter as if you were there. Be still. (Psalm 46:10)