Dirty Dishes: How Grace Isn’t A Whirlwind

by MitchellRichards

The other day, I showed p to work and could sense an urgent matter by the way people were moving. You can usually tell when something is out of the norm, and people busy cleaning random parts of the restaurant tipped me off. They were scrubbing the walls behind the ovens, mopping, and finding any nook and cranny to give an extra little spot of cleanliness. When you work at a restaurant, most of the workers want to know the bare minimum of what needs to be cleaned on a daily basis. Wipe down the tables, sweep the floors, mop the floors, am I good to go home now? That sort of thing. So what happens is these bare minimum things get cleaned, but the extra things normally don’t, thus the walls behind the fridge.

So when I walked in to work the other day, and everyone was cleaning all the things no one ever cleans, I asked around and found out that some “big wigs” were coming in to check everything out. I didn’t really know what that means, but I just did my business and got ready to open the restaurant.

It was kind of frustrating to watch everyone clean in such a hurry because in my mind I was thinking that this wouldn’t be such a big deal if people actually cleaned over time, you might not have to scrub down the walls behind the oven every day, but maybe once a week or so, you know? It is way more difficult to clean everything all at once, than it is to clean all the same things over time. Just because some “big wigs” are coming to inspect the place, well, the place should have already been clean. A whirlwind of trying to clean up your mess isn’t as effective as a constant cleaning schedule.

This being said, I have a tower of dirty dishes in my sink right now. They have been there long enough. Dishes are the one thing I can’t seem to conquer on my cleaning schedule it seems. I will always say I will do them tomorrow. As you can imagine, things can get a little tricky pretty quickly when you don’t do your dishes regularly.

But about once in a blue moon, I will buckle down and do those dishes. It is dumb because I end doing just about every dish I own all in one day instead of doing them over time.

And all of this cleaning leads me to my soul.

I am a very burdened person. I want to do the right thing but more often I find myself doing the opposite. My heart knows what is good and right, yet I tend to repeat the same mistakes that I always have. When I get trapped in sin and want to be free from it, I do one of those whirlwind soul cleanings where I want to change everything immediately. I want to cut myself off from everyone and focus on getting well. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this process, it is important, but slowly over time the dirty dishes start to pile up again.

And I don’t want to take care of them anymore.

Cleaning everything at once in your life is a good first step, but it is the longevity of discipline that I really suck at. It’s nice to get everything out in the open, to confess your sins to the people around you, but to continue to confess your crap to those people 2 months down the road, that is where I struggle. I want to do all the dishes at once, and then let them build up again. When you do this, yo’ll run out of dishes eventually, and spiritually speaking, you can’t eat and you can’t drink because you don’t have anything to eat or drink with. You’re too busy living with the stink of your dirty dishes to embrace the food and life God is offering.

I just watched this movie called “Everything Must Go” with Will Ferrell, I enjoyed it very much. In the movie, Will’s character is living on his front yard because his wife left him and switched the locks. Everything that he owned was out on the lawn; his recliner, his George Foreman grill, rugs, lamps, everything. In one scene, he is talking to his neighbor about all the crap people in the neighborhood are dealing with in their personal lives. At one point he says, “I’m no different than any of you, I just don’t hide inside my house.”

It doesn’t seem like it at the time, but him living outside is the healthiest thing for him. He is forced to deal with the reality of what is going on around him, and forced to make choices. He is forced to slowly and methodically reverse the chaos that got him out there to begin with.

Just like dishes. Just like cleaning. Just like grace and forgiveness.

Grace is a slow moving machine, cleaning and scrubbing everything in its path. True grace isn’t a whirlwind, true grace changes the heart of the person being touched. True grace never leaves, it doesn’t build up over time, it doesn’t clean one area and then not clean it again until someone goes looking behind the oven. Grace doesn’t demand no dirty dishes though, grace doesn’t require perfection, grace only demands that the dishes be taken care of.

Now if someone wants to help me clean my dishes…feel free. (I mean this in both ways, literally and spiritually by the way.)