You know how sometimes everything you learn and see and read all seems to be from the same place and it feels like you’re living in God’s great conspiracy theory because He’s determined to get that lesson into your big stubborn head while you do the dishes? Oh that’s just me? Well that’s how this month has felt.
We moved into our lovely home exactly one year and a few days ago. I was so unbelievably excited to have a HOUSE – with a guest room and a big back yard and so much space and potential to be hospitable. I wanted to have friends over all the time and let people stay when they needed a room and really get to be the hostess I always dreamed of being. Everything was perfect – the rental price, the date our lease ended at the apartment and began here, the location… I could go on forever. So we moved, and life ended happily ever after.
Until the next day when I remembered we don’t have a dishwasher. Which means I am the dishwasher. And since I read Seven by Jen Hatmaker, I feel personally responsible for ruining the environment when I use styrofoam, so that was out. So basically, whatever we use, I wash… because Ethan apparently is genetically disposed against dishwater (as if I like that stuff) and so we made the deal that he would cook if I cleaned. I agreed then because I also don’t really like cooking (also, saying that aloud makes me feel like the opposite of a woman) but now when I do the dishes, I immediately feel like it’s the end of the world and I murmur under my breath as I break many dishes (my own genetic disposition apparently). End rant.
So anyways, while I’m doing the dishes in anger and haste, God ALWAYS convicts me. He uses those moments over my sink to slap me in the face (gently of course) and say “Rach, get it together, you are blessed and stop whining and also, here is a brilliant revelation I’ve been meaning to give you: Insert Great Truth Here.”
Most recently the revelation is that working with my hands and choosing joy in the mundane does not apply only to the things I like to do or feel good at doing. The long hours of freelance where I get to design and create can feel mundane to some, but I can find joy in those details because I don’t feel horrible at the work. I actually really enjoy it. The long conversations with college students that may frustrate some or seem menial to others, I adore because that is what God has called me to do and I often feel strong in those times. But when it comes to meal planning, cooking, doing the dishes, grocery shopping, paying the bills, and on and on with the things I’m not super awesome at doing, my attitude becomes one of laziness, bitterness and I resist those things like the plague. Because Gilmore Girls, obviously.
This morning I found this beautiful illustration about Proverbs 31:13 from Stephanie Ackerman. Again, part of God’s great conspiracy theory no doubt, because it perfectly coincided with the day of the week I was on in the Life Lived Beautifully Proverbs 31 study. I just laughed to myself when I read these words from Week One, Day Four:
Lord, may we use our hands to serve You and to love those around us. Redeem every mundane task and show us Your glory in the everyday happenings of life. We long for the gospel to be beautifully displayed like a tapestry of gold in our home so that others may see Christ in us and rejoice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
OKAY GOD, I SEE NOW. Thank you Gretchen for playing a part in God’s big plan to remind me that this life is about HIM and HIS WILL and doing things in obedience and joy that may not be our first choice. Colossians 3:23 reminds us “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” and Proverbs 31:13 emphasizes our willingness to do that work, “She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands.” Scripture is full of reminders that obedience is God’s desire for our lives “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22
A few weeks ago I read this quote from my friend Gretchen’s Well Watered Women series on the LLB blog. This quote has been marinating in my heart and really convicting me of the structure of my life.
What if we rearranged our schedules to revolved around Christ and prayed alive instead of just getting by?
I don’t want to just get by. I don’t want to avoid the mundane and spend too many hours watching Gilmore Girls and House of Cards and Friends… I don’t want to use laziness as an excuse from doing the hard work and the tasks of obedience that God has called me to. Laziness appears to be a lack of doing anything, but really, it’s just a coverup for my death grip on control of my life. If I don’t do anything at all, I’m still “in control” and not doing the things God has called me to in this season. Also, He’s showing me that more and more, I’m not loving Him or others well when I cling to my own interests above others. 1 Corinthians 13:5 “love does not insist on its own way…” So I’m not doing anyone any good with my stubborn, lazy attitude and resistance to the tasks that He has given me to do faithfully.
I read a book last year by Tim Keller called Galatians For You that really rocked my understanding of valuing Jesus and Only Jesus. This morning a passage from that book came to mind and I had to go back and find the truth that really opened my eyes to a convicting awareness in my life then, and now again in this season. Keller explains that when Paul is writing about the fruit of the Spirit, he uses the term “fruit” to describe a whole list of things that grow in the Spirit-filled person. He explains that Christian growth is symmetrical:
The real fruit of the Spirit always grow up together. They are one. Jonathan Edwards put it like this: ‘There is a concentration of the graces of Christianity.’ That is, you do not get one part of the fruit of the Spirit growing without all the parts growing.
He goes on to explain how we may be genetically created or tempered to excel in one quality which appears to make us more fruitful in that area (i.e. some people are very kind and diplomatic (gentleness) but may lack boldness or courage (faithfulness) So we must distinguish between personal qualities as unique characteristics and not confuse them to be a strong evidence of one singular fruit.
This train of thought has really called into question my overall fruitfulness in the Spirit. I’ve noticed that my laziness really coincides with a lack of self-control. If I lack self-control in many areas (like what I’m eating, how I spend my time and my money, what I’m avoiding) then certainly that means other fruit must not be thriving in my life, because fruit grows in unity.
It’s important to ask not only what we are doing wrong that’s preventing this fruit from growing, but why we are doing wrong. I love how Keller writes about surrendering those things we “over-desire” above Christ:
To crucify the sinful nature is to say: Lord, my heart thinks that I must have this thing, otherwise I have no value. It is a pseudo-savior. But to think and feel and live like this is to forget what I mean to you, how you see me in Christ. By your Spirit, I will reflect on your love for me in Him until this thing loses its attractive power over my soul.
I am over-desiring the lack of work and masking my laziness as “rest” when it is really just avoidance of the healthy habits God has called me to pursue.
So today, I’m asking for strength to seize the day. I am praying alive, to really embrace our calling to work with willing hands, in whatever we do, with fruit that comes from the Spirit. I’m laying aside my stubbornness to confess that my prayer should no longer be “Help ME do this God…” but instead, “God, I am helpless. Be glorified in my life. Use me to accomplish your will, whatever the cost.”
May we see fruit that comes from a surrendered heart, and may we find joy in the mundane as we “Cease endlessly striving for what we want to do and learn to love what must be done” as the lovely GraceLaced illustration reads over my sink. I love God’s great conspiracies to teach us those lessons our heart resists and I’m thankful that He’s in the business of grace that never runs out. Now, to do those dishes…