One of the things that I spend the most time thinking about is mess. Seriously, I know. If you have read much of what I have written you have probably noticed that I can basically not write at all without mentioning laundry or walking on pretzels. I try to suppress it, but it does pop out – probably because it is actually a really big deal in my life. Mess in the home and people in the home have been some of the major headers over the flow chart of my sanctification. Much of my personal walk with the Lord has taken place circuitously around our home, and I am so thankful for that – because also in my home are a bunch of little people that I love. And it is here, in the middle of my sanctification laboratory that they are learning about life and God and joy and peace and family and sacrifice.
When I bring up my problems to my husband – they are often things such as: organizational methods, things we need to get rid of, messes that I have uncovered, why the children could be making the messes I uncover, whether I need to become more organized and live by a schedule, etc. In other words, I bring up methods. I judge my performance by methods. And the thing he pointed out to me the other day has been on my mind ever since.
He said “Show me the fruit. What are you making?” And as we talked about this, I began to see how many ways I am not looking at the fruit – and how much more important that is. His comment was that I could show him that I had gotten rid of all the junk in the kitchen – cleaned the drawers out super clean and now I had only a one cup measure and a rolling pin. Ta-Da! Look how sleek and simple this is! Look how much we aren’t in bondage to all those potato peelers and microplanes! Look at how we finally have uncluttered our space and are living the good life. And it wouldn’t tell you anything at all. The question, upon looking in the vacant kitchen drawers ought to be, “What are you making with that?” And, “Is it any good?”
So the question really ought not to be about what does my home look like – but what does it sound like? What does it feel like? What are my kids like? Are they joyful and secure? Do they trust us and love each other? Are they enjoying the life that God has given them? Are we loving them and honoring God in the way we treat them? And of course when this is all true, your house will also be good to look at.
It will be different though, because the priority difference is noticeable. When the people come first, the house doesn’t. When the fruit comes first, the method doesn’t. When the joy of the Lord comes first, the joy of minimalism doesn’t. The truth is that we need to re-order what we look for. You could walk into a home that looked perfect, and yet the fruit of that home might be bitter. And it could easily tempt you to resent the noise and the spills and the troubles that you are having in your very sweet, fruitful home.We simply cannot forget what we are doing in our homes. What is the whole purpose of this place? Not just how it looks, but why it looks. What are we for? Why are we doing this?
If you set a time lapse camera up over my kitchen sink and then reviewed the footage, you could come up with some pretty dark news: a lot of mess and many dishrags coming and going. But if you turned the camera to the table, the picture would be very different. I should be judging that mess in the sink only in light of the smiles on the faces, the laughing around the table, and the joy of the Lord. These two passages really make up my whole point:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
And then in Proverbs 11:29, we have this warning.
“He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, And the foolish will be servant to the wise-hearted. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.”
This is the answer to what you are trying to do at home: win souls. Your home, your cleaning, your cooking, your laundry, and all the things you do are simply the tools that God has given you to use as you win souls. This is the real work, this is the real fruit. It is a wonderful thing that God has given us so many diverse ways to bless our kids. And every one of those ways can be used to trouble them. But the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.
I am going to try, in the next couple of posts to talk a bit about things that we do in our home with this in mind. I don’t think we all need to do this the same way, because, thank the Lord, we are all different and have different children. But it is good to think through our methods looking forward to the fruit – and I will try to share a few of the ways that we do this in our own home.
And finally, about the “funner” sign. It’s a joke and an admonition all at the same time – be funner, people!