January 5, 2009
Monday, 4:00 p.m.
Letter #70: Green Eggs and … Bill
Bill. I do not like Bill. I do not like his attitude. I do not like his beard. I do not like him in a box, with a fox, on a train, or in the rain. I would rather eat green eggs and ham than have Bill in my choir. I do not like Bill’s homemade songs. I do not like the three chords he knows on the piano. I do not like Bill playing those three chords loudly. I do not like Bill singing loudly. I do not like it, not one bit. Inside I scream at Bill, “That’s IT!!” His many wrongs, his obnoxious songs; his attitude—weird; his face—that beard! I do not like Bill, big or small—I do not like Bill at all!
Bill. Everything was going so smoothly before he came along. Everything was perfect. No one had trouble doing what the director requested, before Bill. No one would ask if he could sing a solo—today—at church, EVERY DADGUM WEEK, before Bill. No one would randomly bang on the piano or play an annoying sing-songy ballad on the guitar as soon as he walked into church, whether anyone wanted to hear it or usually not, before Bill. No one would talk back to me in choir, saying that he isn’t going to sing it that way, that he is “just gonna feel it—and let it flow,” before Bill.
Bill. He’s the thorn in my flesh, the pebble in my shoe, the bumblebee in my Pepsi, the glare on the windshield of my life. Bill is the hole in the dyke, the flatulence at the wedding, the ding on my car door, the fingernails on the chalkboard of my life. As Brian once stated, “He’s the glue that holds together the gears of our organization.” His name, fittingly, ends in “ILL.”
It was announced last Monday that we were going to have a foot-washing service today. I knew I needed to wash Bill’s feet. I knew that if I didn’t God would somehow plague me with something horrible such as frogs, lice, or more choir members like Bill. I knew God could use the act of washing his feet to humble Bill, and if I needed humility for some unknown reason, God could give me a little bit too. I looked forward to the opportunity to help lead Bill toward holiness—toward a heart-change before God, which I knew he desperately needed.
Bill wasn’t in the service today, however. Ha. Just as I thought: Bill is resistant to genuine heart-change …
I had to leave the service to check in for count, but I was delayed from returning for nearly half an hour. By the time I got back to the chapel, the foot-washing portion of the service was just concluding. James and John grabbed me as soon as I entered and told me it was their privilege to treat me to the “Sons of Thunder* Foot Spa.”
I sat down, and these two guys whom I’ve had the privilege of mentoring, encouraging in the faith, and teaching music to, knelt down and carefully washed my feet and prayed blessings on me. They anointed my feet with oil and then dried them as tears rolled down my cheeks.
I put my socks and shoes back on and was ready to join the rest of the Christian brothers to close out the service in prayer, when John whispered that Bill had just walked in the door … he’d had a doctor appointment, it turns out.
All the foot-washing buckets were put away, the pastor speaking his closing thoughts, and I was sitting there thinking about how much I love Bill.
I don’t remember walking over to Bill, sitting next to him, and putting my arm around him; my eyes were clouded with tears. I told Bill that I had wanted to wash his feet—and his face couldn’t have been more shocked. I put my hands on his head as I prayed blessing after blessing into his life, my tears flowing freely. I asked God to guide his feet unto righteousness, in prison and out, and to restore his family to him. I wept as I thanked God for Bill, and I told God how much I need a Bill in my life to help me to grow. I told God that Bill and I would not let Satan drive us apart.
As a final blessing, I reached down and put my hands on Bill’s shoes, as if to symbolically wash them as I’d intended. I was surprised to find them wet—washed with my tears.
Bill. He’s who God used to make me realize I needed a heart-change. I like Bill.
*I call these two Sons of Thunder from the Biblical nickname for the sons of Zebedee, James and John.