In the Midst of Dirty Dishes
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: … whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ …” 1 Peter 4:9-11b (ESV)
I’d heard heroic tales of her. She’d been a missionary for over 60 years and led countless people to Christ. Now she was in her eighties and continued to pour her life into serving others. I was honored to stay with her for a week to minister alongside her.
After traveling 30 hours to her home, my husband and I arrived late in the evening. She welcomed and ushered us into her kitchen for a hearty meal she’d prepared. Then she took time to pray over us before we went to bed. When the sun was barely up the next morning, we feasted on an enormous breakfast in her tiny kitchen.
She and her husband prayed and read Scripture while we ate. The kitchen was crowded, her appliances old and worn, dishes piled high in the sink from her lavish food preparation—yet the atmosphere was home. As they read and encouraged Dale and me, unexpected tears welled up in my eyes and dripped on my plate!
Her kitchen didn’t get a rest! Immediately after breakfast she began cooking again, this time for 100 women. She had rented a banquet hall and invited friends, telling them an American would be speaking and food would be served. We cooked, set up the luncheon, and I was ushered to the front to speak. Her intention was to build a bridge to their hearts, in hopes that they would come to church on Sunday. And many did!
While driving home in a car packed full of dishes from the luncheon, she told me she’d invited a large group to the house for dinner and wanted me to speak again.
I couldn’t imagine how we could clean up all the mess we had left behind and prepare another huge meal! How would we get it all done? She didn’t seem concerned at all. Instead, she was fueled from what the Lord had done at the luncheon.
There have been times that I’ve worried more about my kitchen than how I can serve others. I fret over the size and messiness. But as I watched this woman overlook the piles of pots I was inspired. She didn’t let an unswept floor keep her from ministering when she felt the Lord move her. She set the table beautifully and welcomed her guests. Her husband and she joined together to pray and read from the Word. Hearts melted, like mine had earlier that morning.
Years have passed and I think of her every time I have company. Over the years she ministered to thousands in her home; many came to know Jesus there. And it was not because of delicacies or fancy dishes; it had nothing to do with a spotless kitchen. In fact, her kitchen was a mess. But whenever God opened a window of opportunity my friend chose to seize it.
I want that kind of desire to serve. I want my strength and passion to be like that described in today’s key verse, 1 Peter 4:9-11b. I want to long for people to know Jesus more than I want to have the perfect kitchen.
God cares more about what’s happening in our kitchen, than the state of it. My friend taught me that God’s love can be shared, His character can be shown and hospitality can be offered, even in the midst of dirty dishes.
Dear Lord, help me take care of my home, and make it a place where You are glorified. Show me ways to serve You in a greater way through the resources You have given me. And help me always care more about the people in my kitchen than the dirty dishes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.