“When we read the book of Proverbs, its like having a conversation with Jesus in His counselor’s office, and He not only loves us, He understands us,” says Ray Ortlund, Jr. of how to rightly understand the book of Proverbs.
Jesus has been the most patient and wise teacher for me.
I took Family and Consumer Science (the millennial generation of Home Ec) in seventh grade and loved it. I can’t say the same for the poor teacher who had me as her pupil. I playfully blew soap suds into the neighboring kitchen group and got points deducted from our classroom meal project. Our lasagna got locked in the oven, dropping me to a dismal B- or something heartbreaking like that.
Once I was out on my own, it got far worse before it got better. I’m not exaggerating when I say I could have made bank if there was a show called “Dorm Room Hoarders.” Try as my mother did to teach me laundry and folding and general human practices of the like, it still required a bulldozing arm to sweep piles off my bed to the chair. Being of the creative breed, I can make a mean mess in the kitchen or sew a loving quilt for a baby, but Lord help me if I have to try to clean up and organize afterward. Its been an uphill battle for Jesus to teach me the ways of stewarding a home.
My problem in learning from Jesus wasn’t just broken habits, but broken affections. The message resounding in my heart was that I had better things to do, could not be bothered by the menial tasks required in keeping a home. I distinctly remember sobbing as I scrubbed the floor of our balcony in Japan (“balcony” is a generous term for the outside landing where we line-dried our clothes.) It collected all the grime and pollen and soot from the busy street it faced, which ended up on our clean clothes – forever collecting a layer of dirt. “Lord, is this what you want me to do with my time? Don’t you see how many minutes are being flushed down the drain with this task? Why can’t I get it together and move past the need for this?”
As a new bride, knowing that my hoarding ways would not serve a young family, I prayed in earnest, “Lord, would You help me want to grow in this?”
His new heart for me was born from His Spirit’s help, which then gave way (slowly, so slowly) to new habits.
He taught me from His created order. Beautiful to see, delicious to taste, and organized perfectly to fulfill His purposes. Work was what He had given to the human race before sin even entered the picture, and He gave it as a good gift. He’s given my marching orders as worship to Him, I am no more or less valuable to Him whether I’m engaged in spiritual conversation with an unbeliever or scrubbing a pile of caked-on grease from a pan. I work for the Lord with all my heart and He sees.
Reading through Proverbs a few months back, and I found myself back in His counselors’ office, or back in His classroom. While He’s made significant changes in teaching me, I’ve not yet graduated. Likely never will. Over and over He shows me His value on hard work, not giving up in despair and leaving my tasks unfinished. If He teaches me His desire for my growth in cultivating a peace-filled home, He will also provide the grace for the practical.
Better than wise professors who assign study groups or offer tutors, my Wonderful Counselor gave me His bride who He has gifted to help me where I struggle. It took a massive laying down of my pride, but asking friends for help has been His grace to me. Asking for advice in my thirties for what I should have learned a decade ago? Praise God for giving me kind and enthusiastic helpers. Bookending my day with bed-making and kitchen counter wiping, teaching my children how to wipe down bathroom sinks and start laundry, lighting a candle and turning on the record player in the evening, its all slowly becoming second nature.
Pinterest or house organizing books are in no short supply here in 2018. I’ve tried the color-coded cleaning schedules. But Jesus taught me by transforming first my heart, and then filling the practices as well.
I may excel at the ways of making home lovely, and bring up the back of the pack with keeping it clean, but I have a new heart and wake up with new resolve because I have the BEST teacher, and He’s given some pretty rad tutors as well.