This morning started badly… I went to empty the dishwasher at breakfast time, only to find I’d forgotten to switch it on last night.
This means (I know from all-to-frequent experience) that the kitchen will be backed up with dishes for the rest of the day, and I won’t get “kitchen” off my job list until much later this afternoon.
All my life I’ve longed to be one of these naturally tidy people. I browse magazines and see page after page of beautiful, neat, tidy homes. No stubborn mud stains on the carpet, no fingerprints on the windows, no laundry piled up.
But I’m just not naturally tidy. I have tried and failed so many times to have a magazine-perfect home. You see, I have stuff – and probably too much of it – and but without it I wouldn’t be me.
Of course, we all have to work at clearing up the mess that “life” creates – those papers do at least need to be in a pile until you can process them, clothes must be laundered, dishes washed and put away, shoes found and beds made. Proverbs advises we should be industrious and get things done: “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work,8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” (Proverb 6 v 6-8, NLT)
But Jesus gave us the example of stopping…not having everything entirely sorted and planned out. When Martha was running around being a good (but stressed out) host, Jesus encouraged her to stop, and just sit for a while and listen to him (Luke 10 v 38-42). When his disciples went out preaching, they didn’t have a full dossier, and set of luggage and a carefully calculated budget: “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. 4 Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town.” (Luke 9 v 3-4 NLT).
Don’t get me wrong – a clear desk is very calming – but it doesn’t represent work in progress. The laundry basket may be empty now, but by this evening it will be full again. When I finally get the dishes cleared, they’ll only be ready for the next meal and it will start again.
So today – just this once – stop for a moment and admire the mess – the stuff that represents you, your work, interests, family. See your life bubbling up through the chaos, and give thanks to God for all you are, and all He has given you.