November 20, 2009

God is in the fine details

Fine dust is everywhere, well, except in or on what has been sealed with sheets and duct tape. Sometimes it is almost invisible, but just knowing it is there makes me feel itchy.

We are having our main floor lino and carpet replaced. The kitchen, dining, living room and L-shaped hallway have been torn back to the sub-floor. The installer has laid about 20 square feet of the new stuff. I’m sure he did that to give me hope.

My devotional reading is about hope in far more dire circumstances. It points to Jonah, a disobedient prophet. God told him to preach and he ran the other way. God arranged a storm at sea and Jonah winds up in the belly of a great fish.

Apparently this has happened in more modern times so the issue is not the believability of the story. It is about being thankful in tough situations.

While he was still in the fish’s belly, Jonah cried out to God, not with “why” or “get me out of here” like I would do. Instead he affirmed that God hears prayer, described his situation, and expressed confidence that God could deliver him if that was His plan. Then Jonah said,

But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. (Jonah 2:9)
During the past few days I’ve been reminded that praying with thanksgiving produces peace. This is not a magic formula though. When I am thankful, I have to mean it, not just mouth it. God knows my heart.

However, if I can be truly thankful, the peace of God settles my heart. This is because thankfulness acknowledges that God is the source of all good things, sovereign over all that happens to me, has a good purpose in even the difficulties, and is able to help me. Grumbling says all the opposites and indicates lack of faith. It also dishonors God. 

I can see myself being thankful for the new floor — after it is in. But can I be thankful for the mess and all that fine dust right now? I look ahead to taking everything out of my kitchen cupboards and pantry, washing or wiping both contents and shelving, and putting them away. Dusting has never been my favorite chore. It chokes me up, and this dust makes my skin as dry as parchment.

Yet I am challenged to be thankful in all situations. This is God’s will for me. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So how can I be thankful in this? One question comes to mind. How long has it been since I last gave my kitchen a thorough cleaning? Mmmm. How long would I have waited to do it had the new floor not been an issue? Mmmm.

God knows what He is doing. I ask Him daily to govern my life and keep me on track. He knows how easily I avoid those daily chores. I’d rather cook, quilt, or do almost anything else than some of these small but necessary responsibilities. So, true to His plan of changing me into a better person, God is also making certain that I take care of the dusting.

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