Dishes are my nemesis–a catch-22, if you will. I love to create tasty food in the kitchen, but dishes are the one household chore that makes me sigh deeply. Even when I had a dishwasher, dishes would pile up in the sink before I would load it.
So as I do my dishes by hand these days, I have plenty of time to think. And often, I remember a sermon I heard on the radio a couple of years back. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the program or the pastor, but his words rang true. He was speaking at a conference on the topic of marriage. He related the tenor of the home to dishes in the sink. He spoke of how some dishes need some soaking before one can hope to get them clean. And he wondered aloud what kind of environment his wife was soaking in in their home. He mentioned a day when she was more snippy than he would have liked, and it occurred to him, that maybe the environment he created was contributing to her response. He wondered if he was soaking her in love, patience, attention and care–or had he been more quick to brush her off, leave her to tend to the family, and zone out when she spoke? As he became more aware of what she was soaking in from him and made changes to his own impact to the environment, he noticed a change in her as well. Without a word spoken to her about it, he found that soaking her in the things she needed resulted in her response being more what he wanted to experience.
And it makes me wonder–what environment do I carry around with me? What do I allow to soak into my heart, my mind, my awareness? I laugh, because when I soak my mind in work things, it never fails that I wake up in the middle of the night and am awake for as long as it takes me to admit in prayer that I am allowing work to crowd my thoughts, that I am actively setting aside God’s call on my life.
Such a night happened this week, but rather than waking at 3am and awake for under an hour, I awoke at 12:30am and was up for awake for almost 3 hours. It turns out, this wasn’t the same ol’ situation. Rather than prayerfully discussing my focus on work, God had a much deeper topic in mind: submission to Him.
My independent streak is strong, ingrained, and frankly, has been the source of strength and endurance in the past. Those were times when God used that independent streak to focus me away from the chaos around me so that I could focus on Him. However, those days are gone. Now, the independant streak has no benefit. Now, He wants to talk about submission, about “not my will, but Your will be done.”
He wants me to surrender. The benefits of that independence before have become hindrances. Where independence from others’ ways of thinking and being kept me away from sin and focused on the right things, leaning on that independence is now standing in the way of who God wants me to be in this life.
The security of knowing God would take care of me, even when my choices left me alone in a crowd, has become a reliance on that feeling of security. And letting go of that source has been harder than I anticipated.
So I contemplate soaking. When the waters around me have changed such that soaking in independent thinking is no longer needed, what do I replace that with?
And the answer in so many evenings of scripture reading has come from Ezekiel. Not a particular verse or section, but the entirety of what it means to fear the Lord. He is our Friend and all that gushy stuff. And He is also Almighty Judge. In times of independence, He was by my side. Now He wants to be my Leader, the One I show ultimate respect. The One to whom I bow–not because of how He has delivered me, but because of who He is.
Soaking in the whole of who He is, even the scary parts found in Ezekiel. Because maybe, but soaking in His standards, His judgment, His wrath, I will begin to see that He is so much more than a Friend.
photo by Christian Nielsen