My family didn’t have a dishwasher. Growing up, I was the dishwasher. While that might sound miserable to some, it was my normal. And I loved it (most of the time). I have the best memories standing on the kitchen chair and scrubbing, while my dad rinsed right beside me. We’d stack the dishes methodically- cups first and bowls next, to create a stable wall for the plates to lean against, and I would smile in amazement when he would run his finger along the edge of a glass to make a magical ringing sound. There was an excitement about it- knowing my mom would feel loved after coming home from work to a surprise of an empty sink. Doing the dishes wasn’t much of a chore when my dad and I did it together.
To this day, my parents still do not have a dishwashing machine and they are as happy as ever. However, last year in our first apartment, my husband and I were spoiled with a brand new, never before been used dishwasher. It was pretty amazing, I have to say. It was also a learning experience for me. A ruined cutting board and spoon later, I had to learn the hard way that wood doesn’t go in the dishwasher. I got used to it though, and loved how much time this saved me.
We recently moved to a new apartment and you’ll never guess what we’ve been having trouble with…that’s right…the dishwasher. The items on bottom aren’t getting clean and the items on top aren’t even getting wet. To leave that perfect dishwashing machine and find one that doesn’t work has been a bit of a downer. Hand washing dishes was fun when I was 10 and had all the time in the world, but 23 year old me wants that specific frying pan clean NOW. I want the sink cleared up NOW. I want to start dinner NOW. The dishwashing machine was supposed to aid me in my innate desire for instant gratification. As I stated previously…I’ve been spoiled.
Earlier this week while I was furiously scrubbing some plates (with a little more force than necessary) it hit me: sometimes I have instant expectations of God too. Like an appliance, I want Him to make my dreams come true NOW. Answer my prayer NOW. Fix my sin NOW. Cure the cancer NOW. Relieve the brokenness NOW. But He doesn’t always work that way.
I have a tendency to reduce my loving God into a dishwashing machine. Cycle 1: load Him up with all that I want. Cycle 2: expect results when I return. Cycle 3: Feel disappointed when he doesn’t work as quickly as I’d like. Repeat.
I’m guessing that you do it too.
You look at your friend’s seemingly spotless life and pray at night that God would give you a life wrapped neatly with a bow on top- expecting him to act by morning. You see your successful sister and ask the Lord to help you make your parents just as proud by Christmas. You compare your life to the happy neighbors and plea, God, this season of struggle has gone on long enough. I’ve learned whatever lesson you’re trying to teach me now. Let’s. Move. On.
We want His care for us to be quick and painless, so we can move on and keep keeping up with our girlfriends. We want him to work at the speed of light when He may have a better, more sanctifying plan in mind. While the dishwasher uses jet-powered water to scrub off the muck, God may use more of a soaking method.
It’s easy to be frustrated at God’s slow-ness. We think our ways are better. We see His speed as a kind of injustice.
Why take your time, God, when we all know you can snap your fingers and fix this in an instant? I don’t understand.
That’s it….I don’t understand…
His thoughts are so lofty. His vantage point is far higher. His vision is much clearer. His love is much deeper. His intentions are more pure. His will is better.
He see’s what is ahead of us. He see’s what this wait will produce. God is more concerned with the growth of our hearts than the stretch of our instant, yet fading smiles. He’d rather us wrestle and fight to trust in Him, rely on Him, and beg of Him- worshipping and loving Him more when he finally answers our prayer, than for us to get what we want, shout a brief hallelujah and forget about Him the next day. You and I both know if He worked like a dishwashing machine, we’d only use Him for our needs; we wouldn’t actually know Him, let alone love Him.
If you know me, you know I’m terrible at math. I failed and retook a math class 6 times in college. You better believe I prayed every year, sometimes every night, that God would let me pass and take this trial away from me. But He never did. Instead, I endured 4 years of this math class, embarrassment, frustration, and at times very little hope that I’d ever graduate. But God in His mercy was growing something inside of me. He was growing my work ethic, my determination, my faith in Him, and believe it or not- my confidence. God used those 6 painful semesters to sharpen me- to make me shine in spots where I was once dull. The day I passed finite mathematics was a day full of the Lord’s glory. He could have made me miraculously pass the first semester, but I would have missed the opportunity to fervently trust and draw near to Him, while experiencing deep growth- two things that just don’t happen overnight.
I’m not sure what you’re waiting for…the sickness to fade, the career to fall in place, the wedding date to arrive, the pregnancy test to finally be positive, the dark clouds over your head to finally part…
We’re all longing for something, and we each get to decide: Am I willing to trust in the timing and worship in the wait?
The dishwashing machine may be quick and convenient, but you have the opportunity to pull up a chair, grab a sponge, pump up some elbow grease, and go to work alongside the Father. I can guarantee you that His company (even amidst pain, doubt, and confusion) is far better than any instant gift you could ever receive.
With Love & Freedom,