Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Practice with Gladness

When I was 5 or 6, it became my job to wash dishes for our family. I remember doing it with my mom, with my big sister Vicki, with my older brother Matt, with my younger brother Luke, and with my little sister Maria. It seemed like I washed dishes for ever, and in reality it was 'my job' until I was about 13, and younger sisters could handle it all by themselves. Sometimes I whined about it, sometimes I cried, sometimes I drug it out for hours and hours, until the next meal was ready to happen, and sometimes I worked as fast as I could so that I could escape the tiny kitchen for the open outdoors. Sometimes I 'had' to soak a difficult dish (or three) and would be called back up from the garden to complete my job.

But there weren't only frustrating moments in the dishwashing industry. If there were huge pans from Sunday's dinner left on the counter until Monday morning with rock-hard food residue in them, there were also the shiny metal scratchers and such hot water from the tap that you could burn yourself. If there were piles of dishes so big that even efficient working left you at the sink until your hands were like raisins and your fingerprints scrubbed off, there was also a sister who would take turns telling stories as the dishrag and the towels swirled and swiped.

And eventually I learned what my dad was trying to teach us in every job we do. Do the work, do it right, do it with a good attitude, do it all the way, and do it efficiently - as to the Lord. And you will be stuck on one chore until you have mastered it; then it will be someone else's turn to learn it.

Some things take longer to master. Sometimes we're stubborn and don't learn our lessons as we should. Sometimes it's a lot harder to find the element of fun in the job that must be done. And there are some jobs that aren't taken away from us after we've mastered them: there isn't always an eager little sister waiting to be taught the delights of dawn dish soap bubbles and the satisfaction of clearing an entire counter of Dahlin family dinner dishes. Sometimes, we master the job, and instead of it being taken away from us just as it gets easier, God lets us keep it for ourselves.

But in everything, gratitude. And as to the Lord and not unto men. He blesses faithfulness and the glad heart.

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