It’s humbling to know that Jesus, whose arrival two millennia ago came in the humble fashion of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, still comes to us in the ordinary and the mundane. This is the first year that I’m attempting to celebrate and observe Advent. I don’t particularly have a compelling reason to start now, except that I have witnessed God’s coming in so many ways leading up to the conclusion of 2012. As we celebrate Christ’s birth and patiently wait and hope for the Day when He comes to renew and restore all things, I hope these Advent reflections glorify God and encourage our faith.
One thing I’m growing to love about Advent is how it’s a time for us to celebrate how God shows up for his people. In my marriage, God has shown up in dishwashing. Yes, dishwashing! Here’s a little background: Growing up, I was the spoiled brat who loved using 10 cups a day. There was a cup for breakfast, a cup for afternoon snack, a cup for after the afternoon snack. You get the picture. But to the degree I unconsciously used cup after cup, I consciously hated washing them. I deemed dishwashing the worst of all household chores, and it was something that my brother and I left undone more often than not. My mom, being the gracious woman she is, washed those dishes day-in and day-out without complaint. It was her labour of love for us, her children, and through it, she modeled God’s sacrificial love for us.
Thankfully, I’m not that boy anymore. By His grace and especially since getting married, God has taken my brattiness and slowly transformed it into something that He molded in my mom so long ago – servanthood. Through the joyful crucible of marriage, He is putting to death my selfishness and raising up in me selflessness. He is teaching me that our marriage really isn’t about me. It’s not even about us. Instead, marriage is intended to be a reflection of Christ’s love to the Church. Just like Christ, the Servant-King, loved us and was (and is) ultimately for the other, even at the sacrifice of His very life (what great lengths Christ has traversed to love us!), we are to serve and love each other in Christ and be ultimately for the things of God in each other, dishwashing or otherwise. It’s only as we love God and others that we can begin to discover all of who He intends each of us to be. This is why marriage cannot be reduced to good feelings and romance. Of course, it includes those things, and they are very important. But far too often, we confuse them as being love’s foundation rather than love’s overflow.
It is beyond this blog post’s purpose to try to get at love’s foundation, but maybe we can just start with 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Dishwashing has become a chore I’ve learned to enjoy in marriage; it’s a way for me to love Gloria. I didn’t always think this way (and to be honest, sometimes, I still complain and procrastinate). But somehow God keeps showing up in this ordinary and mundane task: I’ve learned to use 2-3 cups a day now – having to wash and dry them has a funny way of producing conservative efforts in me…. I’ve also discovered more of what it means to love without any real gain for myself. In Christianity, we call this agape love, or the love of God that meets us for no other purpose but to be ultimately for us. Isn’t that an amazing thought? Our God is for us! Dishwashing even serves as an act of worship as I remember how Christ has washed me clean and continues to renew me.
I still have a long journey ahead of me as His Spirit molds me more into the image of Christ, but I’m grateful that I’ve witnessed Christ in something as simple as dishwashing. As we wait for the coming of Jesus, let’s remember and recall how He has shown up in each of our lives.
For a free Advent devotional, check out John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, click here or use the links below:
Free MOBI (for Kindle)