I wrote this post two years ago, but wanted to repost it under this series because it sums up the point I was hoping to make with this post: From Stinky to Clean.
As I sit hunched over the bathtub to scrub a dog whose odors have sent the child who wanted to be of help, racing for the door, I am left in the quiet to ponder, and scrub, and rinse, and scrub, and ponder. “Lord,” I say in my soul, “Speak to me.” First, what’s up with this dog? Second, I am so bothered today by a to-do list that seems only to be building, even though I have been working all day to dig out. When do I get time for ME? After meal planning and grocery shopping and school planning and laundry and house cleaning and the [what seems] million other tasks and now this impromptu bath that is setting me back from getting some other things accomplished, I am crumbling Lord, absolutely crumbling, even with a husband who is willing to step in and help. I don’t have time for any more surprises or random requests. The handful of “Hey, Mom” sentence starters only leave me with another task of instructing, helping, problem-solving, listening, or simply doing. I feel as though I have nothing left to offer anyone, including myself. And to top it off. . .. . this plunge into the Paleo diet is leaving me thinking about eating everything that I shouldn’t, primarily sweets. I just may snap. It’s too much Lord. Can you quiet the waters that seems to be swallowing me up? I need some peace and quiet. Is five minutes of down time on the couch too much to ask for?
Then .. .. . TRUTH. God gently reminds me of the passage found in Mark 6:30-34 which reads,
“The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (ESV).
I have read this verse many times over the years and the same thing strikes me each time I read it: “People! Give Him a break. Let him have some peace and quiet.” I am quite certain His disciples felt that, after all, they had been on a ministry tour. But Jesus, who had also been ministering to multitudes, must have felt equally tired and in need of some time away, yet it says he had compassion on them. He had a heart for people and demonstrated in this passage that it’s not about us! It is about loving others and putting them first, even if we’re exhausted and/or feeling maxed. I try to imagine the expressions on their faces when their boat reached the shore and they saw the crowd. The disciples would have most likely shown their sense of annoyance through glares and perhaps audible sighs. Jesus, on the other hand, would have been smiling and had a gracious, kind, and gentle look in his eyes.
Jesus, in this passage, speaks a message loud and clear to us as moms. In the quiet moments spent hunched over the bathtub serving in the humblest of ways and having a breakdown in front of Christ, he gently reminded me that it’s not about ME! After he died, rose, and ascended into heaven, it has been our responsibility to be his hands and feet, allowing Him to work through us. Can I get it all done today? Absolutely not! Can I get done what He deems necessary today? Absolutely– only because of Him and only through Him! My human response to life’s crashing waves will be sighs and glares, however, through Him, I am called to meet whatever waits on the other shore with graciousness, kindness, and gentleness, even if that means bypassing the physical time of peace and quiet I was so excitedly anticipating. He is our peace and quiet in all moments, even while I am hunched over the tub, scrubbing the stench off our dog.
That truth was good enough for me, but He continued. . . .
Echoing Matthew 25:34-40, he reminded me: Do it to Me!
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison and you visited me. Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!‘ ” (ESV).
What a great reminder! When my children lead with “Hey, Mom. . . ,” (which I heard several times while scrubbing away), I need to answer them as I would Christ. When I walk past the laundry room and see another load beckoning my attention, I need to do it as though I was doing it for Christ. When crawling into bed exhausted and a slight request (be it water, a band-aide, or a last kiss goodnight) comes creeping down the hall, I have been asked to do it with graciousness, kindness, and gentleness.
Moms, we are His hands and feet. Serving our families in this role gives us ample opportunities to demonstrate His heart. As I finished the last rinse of our dog, I was reminded of the final truth that Christ so gently spoke to me: I came to take away your stench.
Just as humbling it was for me to wash our dog’s stench away, so it was for Christ. The King of kings and Lord of lords came to bathe us of our filth. He did what was above inconvenient; He did the unimaginable. He died for us so that we could live forever with Him. If you haven’t let him wash over you with the sweet scent of forgiveness, mercy, and grace, let him! He is able to remove the stench of sin from you and it will never return. That is a promise.
Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to reflect you moment by moment! May I honor you in all the responsibilities that fall on me as a wife and mom. Thank you for putting me in a time-out in the bathroom, scrubbing our stinky dog. Thank you for using that time to speak TRUTH!
Quincy is due for another bath today. I wonder what the Lord will teach me this time. I’ll have another nugget for you tomorrow. Stay tuned!