When talking about homemaking, Christian women often refer to the fact that God loves order. But then I look outside my house and laugh – because God also created places where you have a storm of natural messes. My yard is strangely prolific in falling items. We have a huge oak tree, and the squirrels party on down in that thing like a bunch of wood chippers. There are shards of acorns everywhere. And then the tree itself doesn’t lose its leaves until after the snow has fallen. So we can’t rake it really, we just keep the leaves primarily in our gutters. Then there is a beech tree that drops a bazillion leaves that we can rake if we are fast, and then there’s a bunch of nut-like products that make walking on our driveway sound like walking on shells. And in the backyard we have a cherry tree that takes a turn pelting the world with tasty blood-red staining agents. We have a black locust tree that throws huge black pods all over the house like confetti. The squirrels also love that, and they merrily transport them to a picnicking location right outside the living room window where they peel and shred pods until their pants are too tight, and they decide to go nap. And then there is an old apple tree that needs some sort of help to make useable apples on a level we could access, but instead makes a bountiful crop way up high and releases them all at once to rot quickly on the ground. And this fits my life. Because inside my house we work in a similar style.
Have you ever seen some of those breathtakingly serene pictures of Swedish interiors? A home made up of sleek surfaces and rustic counterpoints? Quiet colors and surprisingly modern touches next to acres of plain empty space? I can look at that kind of thing and be filled with a real longing. Longing for a place that does not get messed up like this place. A place that stays beautiful, a place that looks the same in the evening as it did in the morning. I am confident that in that place there are not plasma cars wheeling around the kitchen in tight circles to the soundtrack of hilarity. I am pretty sure that no one got all the washcloths out and into the tub, and I am sure that if you decided to turn on the sink, or begin to bake something, that there would not instantly be three children on chairs behind you asking you to move over so they could get on with their plans. I bet that in that home when I put a stack of clean clothes on the bed in my room, toddlers would not lay siege to it and throw it back in the dirty clothes. Because in that life, there would not be the unsavory mess of my life. There wouldn’t be all the dishes and all the wet rags. There wouldn’t be the crayon wrappers or the stickers that somehow only stick permanently to the wrong surfaces. There wouldn’t be misused sharpies, or coats that got dragged through the mud outside by a misbehaving puppy. In that life, there would not be the mess of my life.
But you know what else there could not be? The fruit of my life. Resenting the mess in the barn is resenting the crop in the field. The only way to honor God is to embrace with thanksgiving the life that He has put before you. The mess in this barn is a mess of plenty, it is the mess of the gift He is giving us.
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