“I will get the dishwater ready for you,” my daughter exclaimed.
“Sure. Thanks!” I distractedly replied.
“I put lots of bubbles in the hot water, mom! That will help the dishes to get clean.”
Still somewhat distracted I walked over to the sink to begin the task of cleaning up the morning dishes. There before me was a great white cloud of miniature bubbles filling the sink. Trying to part them with my hands I managed to get to the dishes underneath and spotted a white dish…
In green water!
I laughed and looked at the almost empty soap bottle. Yup…lots of bubbles was not an understatement! I might need to show her how when it came to dish soap, a little can go a long way.
I reached into the water to grab the dish, but my pour hands jumped out in pain.
The water was hot!
Straight hot. So hot that it left my hands tingling in agony. I turned on the cold water and finger-toed around the bubbles, gingerly grabbing the dishes to wash them. I don’t usually rinse under cold water, but I made an exception in this case!
Finally, the sink was overflowing with bubbles and full of water. I plunged my dishcloth into the water intent on mixing the cold in; however, the water seemed just as hot. The cold water had hardly made a dent in the temp of the water.
Once again I cleared a path through the bubbles, and got the dishes out of the way so there was a direct line between my hand and the plug. Taking a deep breath I shot my hand through the searing water and drained the sink. With enough bubbles remaining, all I had to add was water…not too hot and not too cold.
As I finished up the dishes, my thoughts drifted to how often in life I do not appreciated the fiery trials that I face from day to day. Some are intense and fierce. Others are seem to go on for such a long time until I am sure that I must look like a well roasted chicken!
And you know if I am honest at the outset I would have chosen the path of least suffering…least pain…least fire.
Hardships are not fun. They are not pleasant. They are painful. In fact, in 1. Peter 1, I am told that these trials will cause me to suffer grief, and in chapter 4 of the same book it says, “Do not be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through.”
Suffering grief in fiery trials? Seriously? Is this what I signed up for when I became a follower of Jesus?
And the simple answer is…
Philippians 1:29 says, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for him.”
It has been granted to me to suffer.
Or to put it in another way…
To be given. It is a gift.
The gift of suffering.
Back to the dishes in the sink of bubbles and hot water. Once I could get my hands into the water, the food that had been stuck onto the dishes came off with relative ease. I did not have to scrub hard to get it off. The heat and the bubbles had done their work.
Much in the same way, the fire that I go through while in a trial purifies me in the fact that it identifies those areas in my life that have sin “stuck on” – an attitude that stinks, a mindset that doesn’t line up with God’s will, actions that are selfish. The list can vary…but one thing is constant. Each and every time when I am confronted with a sour attitude, mindset or action I have a choice. Either I can go to God and confess my sin OR I can decide that I want to hang onto that sour attitude for a bit longer.
My choice will result in one of two responses. If I confess my sins God will cleanse me and purify me from all unrighteousness…much like the bubbles in the hot water. The result is that I will be clean. Purified. Refined.
If I choose to hang onto my “stuck on” sins, the temperature may have to become a bit hotter…the bubbles a little more intense.
When I wash dishes, if there is a spot that is really stuck on I will sometimes add boiling water. Or if it is in a pot, I will put it on the stove with water in it and let it boil away for quite some time. There is something about the heat that lessens the hold of the stuck-on food to the pot.
And again, heat applied to my life accomplishes much of the same outcome. I wish I could say that I always respond to the heat immediately and ask for forgiveness when sin is brought to light.
But I don’t.
Sometimes the sin in my life is just so “huggable” I don’t want to let it go. It takes the heat of trials to soften my hard heart so that I can see that these sins are not “cute and cuddly”. In reality they are more like trying to hug a prickly bush with inch long thorns. Sometimes it takes intense heat to make me step back from the thorns – those sour attitudes, bad thoughts or harmful actions – that I have been fiercely clutching. The heat of the trial clears my mind and vision so that I can see the truth of the sin that I have been clutching and the damage that it has been doing to me and those around me.
When I recognize this, I no longer want to cling to it. I want to let it go, and I come to my Father confessing my sin.
And you know…much like that bubbly, hot water cleans the dirt right off the dish, my Father cleanses my heart so that I can more clearly reflect the image of Jesus in my thoughts, attitudes and actions.
And, just as I need to continually keep my dishes clean, I need to keep short accounts with God. When I find myself slipping back into those attitudes, thoughts or actions that don’t line up with God’s truth, I need to run to my Father and ask for forgiveness. For just as food can harden onto dishes as it rots away, so too sin that I can hang onto can harden my heart, deaden my conscience…until it takes some severe heat to loosen it from my stubborn grasp.
Thankfully, He is always keeps His promises.
And when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You know, I don’t know if I have ever learned so much in cleaning my dishes! I guess it just goes to show that one never knows where God’s lessons of truth are waiting to be discovered…
Even in a sink of hot water and bubbles!