Monday, October 26, 2009

It Is Finished...

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

~Luke 10.41-42

When, as a child, I had the rare privilege of visiting Chuckey Cheese, my favorite game involved a foam hammer and a bunch of alligators in a Louisiana swamp. Remember this one? You slotted your token and their heads began to pop out of the water in dizzying succession. The more heads you hit, the faster they kept popping up and down, and the longer the game went on...

I got a rush out of it every time.

Twenty-odd years later, I realize I have adopted this attitude toward daily household chores.

Like most people, I get satisfaction, even a certain sense of security and worth, out of crossing things off my to-do list… I often loathe "mundane" tasks - like bed-making, dishes, and gathering all the toys back into the toy chest… And yet they give me a fleeting rush of satisfaction, a momentary assurance that life is "okay" and "under control."

A lot of days I wait until the last possible moment and then make a game of seeing how quickly I can “get them out of my life:” Eight minutes until Daddy's home! And, GO!

But just like the alligators, they keep coming back. Every morning the bed sits begging to be made, the sink quickly fills with dishes, and before I am even dressed the toys have once more been scattered across the living room floor.

I aspire to be like Mary; and yet I identify with Martha… with that persistent voice that always tells me if I just finish X then I can sit down and rest at the feet of Jesus. But X will always be there. In fact, the moment I hammer it back down three others crop up in its place.

So what must I do? I have tried either extreme: ignoring the daily tasks entirely as well as throwing myself into them so wholeheartedly that I have time for little else... Neither works… both ultimately leave me feeling undone …

I have come to realize that God made life to be constantly filled with this kind of endless ‘clutter.’

I believe He made it this way for at least two reasons: first, to make me dependent on Him; and second, to reveal my desire for completeness, wholeness, and perfection. What I really want, after one of my harried, crazy cleaning binges, is to be able to say, “It is finished…forever.”

And perhaps therein lies the secret, the deeper/truer reason behind and answer to all my frenziedness. For there is One who has finished for all time the most important, life-giving work – and that is the work of salvation. Christ accomplished this on my behalf and those three words – IT. IS. FINISHED. – were not only the last he uttered on this earth, they are the reason that I can be free to go about the daily tasks of my life... with my hands engaged but my heart at peace… “Always working but always resting,” as Tim Keller says in his great sermon on rest.

I should still seek to do my best. But I can be at peace even in the face of those tasks that remain perpetually ‘unfinished’ – like laundry, dishes, bed-making – because my worth and security are no longer contingent upon my perfect completion of these things.

Perhaps most exciting to me, I can free myself to spend time doing things that might otherwise seem reckless, like spending the whole morning in my scrubby clothes on the lawn … with my Bible and a can of bubbles open, while Audrey does circles around me.

I can be grateful for the enormity of what He did at great cost to Himself; and what little, by comparison, He requires me to do.

1 comment:

Joseph Anfuso said...

Love this, Heather. Well said.