Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Mind-Numbing Work of Redemption

I do the same things All The Time.
I pick up the dirty clothes, and sort them into the hampers.
I button the buttons, and turn the socks right side out.
I spray the stains, and I fill the washing machine.
I take the wet clothes out, and straighten them,
and hang them on the clothesline to dry.
I take them down, and fold them, and send them to be put away.
And then I sort them out into the hampers again.

I rinse dirty plates, and stack them,
and I fill the dishwasher with them.
I unload the clean dishes, and put them in the cupboards,
and then do it again.
Sometimes three times a day.

I nurse the baby in the middle of the night,
and I feed him again in the morning.
In the late morning.
At noontime.
In the afternoon.
In the late afternoon.
At dinner.
In the late evening, just before he goes to bed.

I change diapers.
And again.
And again.
The progress of my days
is marked by piles of used diapers,
moved bookmarks,
dirty dishes, 
and clothes that need another washing.

I told my husband, "I don't know what purpose I have right now."
A friend asked me how I am doing, and I said, "I feel dull."
And I do.
I mean, seriously,
what point is there
in washing and washing and straightening
what is never clean,
and never straightened out?
You would think I do nothing at all
if you looked at the crumbs on my floor.
Because if I vacuum three times a day,
there are still crumbs on my floor.

I have been meditating on the Proverbs 31 woman,
whose equal I am not.
And I've been thinking about how she wraps herself up in food prep,
and laundry maintenance.
And I was contemplating two questions the other morning:
What is God doing in my life?
And how do I join God in His work?

What is God doing in my life?
He's drawing me into fellowship with Himself and with others.
He's refining me.
He's making me new in Christ.
He cares for me and my concerns.
He redeems me.
He washes me.
He comforts me.
He heals me.
He plants, waters, weeds, prunes...
He fills my darkness with His light.
He's working resurrection in me.

And how do I join Him in His work?
Kissing hurts, and healing wounds.
Mending what's broken.
Washing what is dirty.
Straightening what is crooked.
Feeding the hungry.
Planting and weeding and watering.
Bleaching out the stains.
And returning what has become unusable to a state of usefulness. 

Suddenly the laundry stains are meditative.
And the dishes, endlessly worthless with grime,
are also endless reminders of the restorative work He does in me.
The children needing comfort,
and the babies needing baths --
are praiseworthy reminders of the comfort He gives,
and the washing of the Word.

The dishes and the laundry are in constant need of redemption--
as I must constantly be redeemed from the sin that soils me.
My usefulness depends on my washing.

I looked down at the pants I was wearing -- a thrift store purchase.
A cast-off redeemed.
I put the same things back in their places every single day.
I bring order out of chaos.
And while I work in the kitchen, the toddler is trashing the living room.
And the shoes are scattered out of their baskets in the laundry room.
And it isn't going to end.
But as they mature (and we have other areas in disarray to set right),
they'll lend their hands to the work.

The material matters.
These mind-numbing, repetitive tasks that I do again and again
are the very same tasks He has set for Himself in me.

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