Every thirty minutes the buzz echoes through my otherwise quiet house. I quickly finish the task at hand and redirect my attention toward the interrupting sound.
The day is spent in a mindless cycle of sort, wash, dry, fold, put away. I am struck by the simple truth that since God fashioned the garments of animal skin for Adam and Eve, fabrics of all types have been beaten with rocks, scrubbed on washboards, and tossed into machines. Those same garments have then been stretched out, hung up, and shoved in to dry. Carefully folded, they’ve been placed in drawers and baskets, on shelves and floors – prepared for use by the wearer.
This day, though, there was more – I noticed more, understood more, grasped more. In the dark early hours I had read Isaiah 26:3:
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (ESV)
Conviction weighed heavy in the darkness. “Whose mind is stayed on you” … How easily my mind wanders away from the Giver of all good gifts, Provider of all life, Redeemer of MY life. Bowed low I confessed and cried out for a retrained mind, one stayed on Him.
And so, that day as the dryer buzzed, the interruptions to my tasks become an invitation to pray. With each load I drew closer to Him. Reminded of His sweet presence, His perfect peace, His faithful love.
I sorted through clothes and towels, placing each in the appropriate pile. Much the same way I tend to sort my sin – in shades of disobedience, arranging my transgressions according to size. My piles pushed me to further confession, deeper understanding that ALL sin, ANY sin, separates me from His holiness. I murmured the Psalmist’s words:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (139:23-24, ESV)
Each sorted pile went into the washer. Dirty, unusable, all was cleaned through the same process … wash, rinse, spin. Once again, I saw myself in the mud stains, coffee spills, and damp bath towels. My sin left me in need of cleansing, my righteousness as filthy rags. But just as the dirty laundry placed in the washer was brought out clean, so my heart, my life, is washed by the Blood of Christ, rinsed through the baptismal waters, and spun through my journey of obedience as I “work out [my] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12, ESV).
I moved clean, but unwearable clothes into the dryer and added fabric softener sheets. Contemplating how often I am clothed in unwearable flesh and how much I need the softening of my heart, my thoughts, and my spirit. My thoughts went to Peter’s words of instruction:
Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of the hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV)
Pulling warm clothes from the dryer, I carefully folded each piece. Smoothing out the wrinkles on shirts and pants, I thought of all the ways the Lord has smoothed out wrinkles in my life. Taking the trials and making them joy as He guides me along the path He has laid out for me.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4, ESV)
The floor of my laundry room visible again, I reflected on the day’s lessons. I’d placed stacks of fresh laundry in the appropriate places and I learned that is the work of the Lord in each of us … cleansing, softening, guiding, using.
Lying on clean sheets as I breathed my final prayers of the day, my words were these:
Thank You, Lord, for laundry and for lessons learned. Thank You for speaking truth into my life in all sorts of ways and through all sorts of things. My mind has been stayed on You this day and You have given me the gift of peace. Amen.