Today as I was folding the laundry, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. You see, I have the same chores every single day. The same routine, the same house to clean, the same long list of things that need to be done. It never ends because as I finish one task, there is another to begin.
As I was folding that towel, I thanked God for the little bodies that use it. I inhaled its sweet fragrance and I was wrapped up in gratitude for the laundry soap I can afford and the washer and dryer I have to use every day. The laundry list of things I have to do every day are things that have to be done because I have the precious opportunity to have a family. I know that’s not something everyone gets to have.
When I think of giving thanks, I often think about Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. That book changed my life. The daily practice of giving thanks should be something everyone tries to do. To practice gratitude is to look through like with a tiny glimpse of God’s vision, it’s a humbling and completely fulfilling task – and it’s not always easy.
Yet long before I think of Ann, I am most often drawn to one of my favorite heroes of the faith, Brother Lawrence. He lived in a Carmelite monastery from 1611-1691. Was he a great theologian? Was he a preacher? An author? A person of high ranking?
He was a dishwasher.
He was a dishwasher, and yet he left behind one of the most significant pieces of literature about practicing the presence of God. You see, he spent every day of his life in an attempt to remain in constant communication with God. No task was too trivial for him. His daily life in the kitchens of his monastery was simple, but his revolutionary faith drew people from everywhere to him. After his death, his abbot collected the letters and notes from his life and compiled a book.
He wrote, “But when we are faithful in keeping ourselves in his holy presence, keeping him always before us, this not only prevents our offending him or doing something displeasing in his sight (at least willfully), but it also brings to us a holy freedom, and if I may say so, a familiarity with God wherein we may ask and receive the graces we are so desperately in need of.”
Brother Lawrence encourages me because he shows me that there is no task that is too trivial for the presence of God. He is with me when I wash the dishes, when I fold the clothes, when I sweep the floor or wipe the countertops for the hundredth time. He knows when I sit and when I rise. He knows my thoughts. He knows me. (Psalm 139:2-4)
I may never be anyone beyond daily chores or wiping baby bottoms. This home is my mission field and I live among the natives. I may never hold a place of importance in the outside world. But if a 17th century dishwasher can revolutionize the way we practice our daily worship of God, there is no limit to what He can do when I submit myself to His will.
In case you think that this was easy for him, Brother Lawrence wrote that, “When I finally reached a point where I wanted to quit, I found myself changed all at once. In my soul, which until that time was in distress, I suddenly felt a profound inward peace as it it were in its true place of rest.”
It’s not until we give up trying to make things happen on our own accord and we relax in our own efforts and rest in the strength of God that we begin to feel His presence.
Be encouraged today. You don’t have to be the best, or the biggest, or anything that you think you have to be. You just have to rest in the knowledge that you are loved. “I considered that he was always with me, that he was even within me.” (Lawrence)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)
You. are. loved.