A good friend was stopping by with her daughters for a last-minute play date that added a bit of buzz and delight to what was otherwise a quickly depreciating Friday afternoon. It had been a chaotic week. I can’t tell you exactly what was the impetus for that chaos. It could have been any number of factors. Stormy weather kept us indoors more often than my energetic children would prefer. Break-downs and repairs around the home had left our abode feeling cluttered and unruly. Attention to routine and order has been broken by the siren call of Lady Summer. Some not-so-subtle personality issues (let’s call it the ebb and flow of normal human growth and development) creating imbalance in the sometimes volatile chemistry of our often spicier than sweet family flavor. But whatever the reason, though I was looking forward to the visit, as soon as I turned from my phone I was immediately seized with a strong self-consciousness at the state in which my friend might find us.
A split second later I was whirling around the yard, scooping up random toys, finding new places for piles of recently uprooted weeds and ensuring that dog doo was not inhabiting play areas. As instructions flew from my mouth to my children, reminding them how to be good hostesses, my eyes were flying with painful fresh awareness to each flaw in our home’s siding and every crack in the patio and the wood chips that had escaped our garden and were littering the sidewalk. My nose was picking up on something too…. was that the trash can’s odor wafting around the corner? No, someone was clearly in need of a diaper change. So I lifted up one daughter to join the random toys in my arms that hadn’t yet found a place to be hidden from sight of our guests and I hustled toward the house to clean her up. Frantic and frenzied at this point, I was stopped dead in my tracks as I approached the door steps, the very same steps upon which our friends would at any moment find themselves.
There it was, impossible to miss, smack dab in the middle of the stoop and directly in front of the door: A large pile of poop. My mind started racing to make sense of the senseless. How had our dog…….? No, the offensive material was clearly too voluminous to have come from our chihuahua. Well which neighbor’s dog…..? And then with horrifying certainty, my brain made the connections. The other daughter who had recently fled the scene to “use the bathroom,” the flax seed common to our breakfast diet that was unmistakably littered throughout the specimen. A child who-shall-remain-nameless had, in broad daylight, where all our neighbors could witness, squatted on our front step and done her business.
I’m telling you, something inside of me broke in that moment. Yes, (especially important to note for my friend who visited that day and might be reading this even now) somehow by the grace of God before our guests arrived I managed to tackle both the poopy diaper of one daughter and the poopy doorstep of the other daughter, scrubbing and scraping and hosing and disposing where appropriate.
But it all left me feeling more than just a little undone. I was keenly aware of all the messes that I live in. The messes in my home. The messes in my children. The messes in my own soul.
It can be an overwhelming reality to me, this inescapable state -of-being in which everything in our world seems to be deteriorating or deteriorated. Why do I even bother to invite people into this? What good could come of it? And what does it say of me and my life when even the daily, most mundane moments can so easily undo me? How could a holy God use this, use any of this, for His beautiful plans? All so common. All so broken. All so far from perfect that even my very active imagination has stopped being able to bridge the gap between where I am and some glorious purpose.
But there was that morning’s verse, obscure and previously unseen, the exact living water I’d collected that morning not knowing I’d thirstily empty the canteen so soon:
On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: Holy to the Lord. And the cooking pots in the Temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar. In fact, every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Luckily, I am not relying on my imagination to bridge the gap between my daily reality and the glorious purpose to which we who trust in Jesus are called. Verses like this remind me of His promises to cause all (common, messy, broken, imperfect) things to work together for the good of those who love him. Promises to make a fragrant aroma of our stinky lives. Promises that while our outward selves are decaying, our inner selves are being renewed day. by. day. Promises that even the most common things, things like cooking pots, will be used for sacred purposes. Things heated in the fire, scorched and blackened, scraped and scrubbed, dented and dinged; things that have long ago lost their luster are re-purposed for His glorious use!
What hope there is in this! That a life like mine, defined by the mundane and the common and marked indelibly by brokenness, can be used for His beautiful purposes. My heart’s desire and my prayer is that He will do this for all of it. For every cooking pot in this house, everything (and everyone) flawed and cracked and even those things profaned by the seemingly unending supply of bodily fluids provided by my three small children and our chihuahua: Let it be marked by Him as holy, consecrated for His sacred purposes. May every single thing be used to bless others and bring glory to Him.