Do the Work
by Katie Smylie
September 5, 2018
My least favorite chore is mopping the floors. Truth be told, I will ‘spot clean’ to avoid mopping until the last possible second—which is the second before my children’s feet are dirtier inside the house than out. It feels like a useless task brutally undone by four little people and their summer popsicles. I know I am not alone in this. It is universally tempting to avoid things that we do not love.
Just below mopping on my list of NOT-favorites is interaction with perpetually grumpy humans. The sullen type of people that push others away with closed doors and unanswered doorbells. A few years ago, our neighbors Lance and Marian appeared that way. They were older adults who loved their routine and mostly stayed inside. We brought cookies and tried to personally deliver their mail that the postman brought to our mailbox in error. We knocked . . . and knocked . . . and knocked. All to no avail. Eventually I just put the mail in their mailbox and stopped trying.
My children would ask to visit them from time to time, but it felt awkward and I had no idea what to say. Although we did not visit, our neighbors were never far from my mind. Ideas of taking out their garbage cans or helping to fix things around the house intruded in my cozy routines. But we never followed through with those ideas.
Then one day I heard from a neighbor that Marian was in the hospital and, eventually, that she passed away. Naturally I had thoughts like, “I should bring Lance dinner.” Yet, those previously unanswered knocks made me feel anxious and unwanted, so I stayed protected on my side of the fence. Eventually Lance moved to a retirement home and our neighborhood lost one of its original owners.
Despite the wonderful relationships we have enjoyed with many in our neighborhood, the loss of Lance and Marian has become my heart’s rallying cry. You see, God used them to show me my tendency to avoid hard things. He brought to light my resistance to loving those who are inconvenient to love. Losing them showed me that God was the source of those ideas to serve my neighbors, but so very often I said, “I am not in the mood for that” and waved Him off. Much like avoiding the real work of taking a mop to my floors, I avoided the real work of the gospel for the sake of feeling comfortable and safe. Never again do I wish to watch a moving truck pull away with that feeling in my gut.
I could look at that experience and hang my head in shame, but instead I choose to acknowledge God’s work. God loved those two more than I ever could, and I trust that He made Himself known to them over their many years. God loves me in all things as well, even in my failures. In deep and abundant love, God showed me the truth—to shine light on my dirty floors—so that in the future I will strive to stretch my boundaries and push past that resistance. A wishy-washy heart is now replaced with deep resolve to do the work He puts before me.
Is there a person or a task that you have long avoided? There is no need to be stuck feeling guilty. Rather, look around for God’s love because it will be evident. Let that love be the fuel for your first step toward obeying His voice.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5
Katie is a wife and mother of four. She loves her neighbors and enjoys seeing God do miracles in everyday life. She is the Women’s Ministry Assistant and Director of The Pursuit Bible Study.