Porches, Cocoa and Perspective

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Scrub in long even strokes.

Watch the gray-green sludge form.

Rinse.

Yellow, brown wood bursts through.

Move over.

Repeat.

When we moved into this house five years ago the deck was new. But five years is enough time to work up some funkiness and since I was busy having lots and lots of babies… well, the deck may not have gotten the “This Old House” treatment it deserved. So, with the need to sell in the immediate future, and two of those “lots of babies” now able to help, I set about cleaning the weather-worn wood.

It was sickeningly gratifying.  The progress was tangible. The reward was immediate. And the work exact. The more fervently I scrubbed the better the result; a perfect ratio as I watched the wood renew before my very eyes. And as is often the case with manual labor, I was given to pondering.

Firstly:

People are not porches. This morning I sat on the couch with my son and a cup of cocoa. Thank God for do-overs because an hour previous I had totally missed it. He had broken down unloading the dishwasher and while I looked like I was going to handle it well by inviting him over to the couch, I tanked shortly after. Mostly when I started talking. His tears and his heart dried up. I was frustrated. My right answers weren’t working.

But then my husband called and said the first thing on the docket today was hearts. He was taking some of the kids on errands and leaving me and the sad-son to have some time. I knew it was a gift to reset and “take it a little slower” (which is what he had tearfully asked me in the first place). Not like the deck. The deck you jump in and scrub hard. The harder you go at it the better it looks.

People aren’t quite like that. Often when our black stains are most apparent we need to not scrub so hard. Sometimes in fact, you have to pretend their are no spots there at all. You just have to love them like they’re blameless. For two weeks I’d been cracking down on behavior. It looked like tough love. I said all the right things. But it just wasn’t. I wanted to give consequences. He needed cocoa. And that stupid cup of cocoa did more good than all those consequences combined.

Secondly:

Perspective. One section of our deck was particularly dirty because it is rarely hit by the sun. That part was extra “fun” for me because the transformation was so dramatic. However, I pictured potential buyers standing on the deck looking out at the land and then surveying the wood. Perhaps, all they would see are the spots that still remained. I mean it is real wood after all. Not like the fancy vinyl stuff in all the ads. It stains.

To us, the deck looked great but that’s because we knew it’s previous condition. It reminded me not to judge a person before you really know their story. What looks like failure to us might be a great improvement upon what used to be there. We don’t all start life on the same playing field. Some of us are boards that haven’t been exposed to nearly as much sunlight.  It helps to know where someone is coming from if we want to see their current state with a proper attitude.

And this is how God unfolds Himself to me in the drudgery of everyday. Using each single act, submitted to Him, as an opportunity to remind me of who He is and how His nature extends to me. He breathes divinity into drudgery and hears worship in our work.

He reminds me how he deals with my black stains.

Colossians 1:22

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself,

through the death of Christ in his physical body.

As a result, he has brought you into his own presence,

and you are holy and blameless

as you stand before him

without a single fault.

And when I feel like I should look a little better than I currently do He reminds me where I came from.

Psalms 103:13&14

The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
    he remembers we are only dust.

He’s so patient. He’s so good. He’s so willing to work in our lives and show us himself. He is the cocoa we’re all needing and from his lap we have a much better perspective on each person’s story. Especially our own. It is nearly unfathomable that a God who is so glorious, can also be so good to us.

I’m grateful today for that.

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