The Holy Act of Doing Dishes

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

A week ago to the day, I was escaping the mundane and the daily to retreat to Women of Faith.  Even with the interruption and distraction of a hurricane, I managed to get away for one of the intended two days and it was uplifting, encouraging, and challenging.

I walked away from that trip with some verses and thoughts that I’m deeply weighing, considering and praying through.  It’s trite to say that a conference or speaker or book “changed my life.”  Yet, it happens all the time.  I read a new perspective and alter my behavior.  I listen to a speaker and adjust my thinking.

Life-changing events can happen more often than we realize.  Shouldn’t we be transforming daily into the image of God’s Son? Life changes don’t necessarily require “bigness.”  It’s not just choosing whom to marry or deciding to change careers that qualifies.  Instead, it means trimming this, discarding that, washing away this, and adding that so every day we’re making the changes that bring us one step closer to Jesus.

So, I can truly say that the speakers at Women of Faith this year changed my life.  And so did being without power for 5-1/2 days following Hurricane Irene.  And so has having the power restored last night. I’m different today than I was a week ago.

You see, last Thursday I was longing to escape from the repetitiveness of my everyday—the dishes, the laundry, the sweeping and mopping, the cleaning up and vacuuming and more.

Today, I was thanking God all morning.  For what?

For safety in the storm, surely.  But also that today I can wash my dishes with running water and a dishwasher.  And I scrubbed my counters with a rag dumped in soapy water instead of a Clorox wipe.  I vacuumed instead of picking up large pieces of child-debris by hand.  Praise God for the chance to vacuum!  All morning I have listened to the humming and spinning of the washer and dryer.  I’m thankful that I can use these machines to give my family clean clothes.

If only they had a machine to fold the clothes and put them away.  But, that’s another story . . . and probably heaven.

I truly believe in the value of spiritual retreating.  Christ Himself called His disciples away from the crowds and busyness of their lives to spend time with him alone.  Often, Jesus would send His disciples on ahead of Him while He remained to pray alone long into the night.

Sometimes we need to go away, to escape all that distracts us here so we can fix our attention on Him there.

And then the real work begins. Meeting God when we have set aside time for Him is expected.  We listen to speakers, we pray, we worship, or maybe we even head for a private retreat into the mountains where we pour out our hearts to Him and then sit in silence as He speaks to us.

We anticipate seeing God in the specifically designated portions of our lives we call “Spiritual” and the times we have set aside as “Holy.”

Then we must return to the daily life in all its mundane activity and we must carry into that everyday behavior all that we learned in the holy moments we had set aside.

Can mopping the floor be spiritual?  Can folding clothes be a God-moment? Can doing dishes be part of my quiet time?

If we deny Him a place in the mundane day-to-day life, confining Him instead to a corner of our hearts designated “God stuff,”  then we miss Him and what He’s doing in us and through us.

It’s what the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Not spiritual heart pieces and holy corners, but all that is in our heart searches after God.

Naaman almost missed finding God.  He was a big-shot, who commanded the army of the king of Aram.  “He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy” (2 Kings 5:1).

Hearing about Elisha the prophet, Naaman traveled to him to receive healing.  Elisha didn’t even come out of his house to meet with the big, important army commander.  Instead, Elisha sent out a messenger with some simple instructions: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

This was so . . . .basic.  So unimpressive.  So nonspiritual.  So, “Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy” (2 Kings 5:11).

Naaman wanted a magic show with special effects rather than an order to take seven baths in the Jordan.  But, his servants challenged him: “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed!'” (2 Kings 5:13).

A few dips in the Jordan later, Naaman’s leprosy was totally healed.  All because he obeyed God in something simple and unimpressive.

If we have our eyes set only on the spectacular, we will miss God’s healing and cleansing work in our everyday lives.

Will I manage to keep this perspective over time?  Probably not.  I will likely grow weary and burdened with the stresses of daily busyness.  I’ll need to retreat again, stepping away from it all to focus solely on God.

But then I’ll come back home where dishes and laundry and homework is what happens here and that, yes even that dailyness, changes my life bit by little bit.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

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