A couple weeks ago during the Christmas season, I made several batches of sugar cut-out cookies and snowball cookies with my five kiddos. As you can imagine, baking with five kiddos resulted in an epic mess.
Throughout the baking and cleanup process I somehow managed to use almost every hand towel in my kitchen. Once I finished cleaning, I threw the dirty hand towels in the washing machine and walked away. Later on, as I was throwing the washed towels in the dryer, I noticed that ALL the hand towels were still covered in dried pieces of food and stains. It was like the washing machine had only soaked the dirty towels and then rung the water out and called it good.
I restarted the washing machine and re-washed everything. This time however, I took the time to stand there next to the machine to listen and watch. Sure enough, as soon as the machine was done filling, the wash cycle “started” however nothing happened. The water was completely still inside the machine. After 9 minutes of “washing,” it then drained and rinsed the load without once moving the dirty towels around.
When I pulled the hand towels out of the washing machine a second time, not much had changed, they were still filthy. I then began to take a closer look at the clothes that had come out of the dryer earlier that day. Sure enough, there were stains all over the “clean” clothes. I found dried deodorant stuck to the inside of t-shirts and I began dry heaving. I picked up another shirt from my sons “clean” pile and smelled it… Oh my word, the smell was terrible.
As soon as my husband, Clayton, got home I showed him what was going on. He was able to take apart our washing machine and discovered the problem quickly. The agitator was no longer functioning. The agitator is the plastic arm that comes up in the middle of the washing machine. It uses its fins to move the water and dirty clothes all throughout the washing cycle. Without a functioning agitator, the washing machine is just a giant bucket for dirty clothes to soak in.
After Clayton drove 50 miles to buy a $7 part, our washing machine was ready to actually wash our dirty clothes again. Praise Jesus!
The broken part on the agitator did not stop suddenly. We could see that it had been wore down after more than a decade of heavy use. Very slowly, our washing machine went from cleaning our clothes to simply rinsing them. Had it stopped working overnight, we would have immediately noticed that our towels and clothes were no longer coming out of the laundry smelling fresh and clean. But because it was a slow process, we didn’t notice the agitator slowing down and not washing our clothes properly. It wasn’t until I took the time to inspect the hand towels that we realized our washing machine was simply going through the motions. It had fooled us for who knows how long into thinking it was working correctly.
After the repair, our clothes came out of the washer softer and cleaner than they had been in months. We had been going 100 mph for months and months that we had missed the warning signs that a major part of the machine was not working the way it was intended.
This whole situation made me think about the church. Not the buildings we go to, to worship God on the weekends, but the body of Christ. The men, women and children on our planet right now that have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
Do you realize that the growth and maturity of the body of Christ is not solely dependent upon Pastors and Authors? The church is not fulfilling its purpose when the majority of its members are not actively using their gifts and talents with love and sacrifice. Just like my washing machine was no longer functioning properly due to one part not doing its job, the same is true for the church when one person is not using their gifts for God.
(nlt) Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the Church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Each of us were beautifully created with specific gifts and talents by God Himself when He knit us together in our Mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13.) For years I didn’t know what my “purpose” was and therefore did nothing for fear that I was going to do the wrong thing. What I have since learned is that the Bible has made it explicitly clear what our purpose in life is.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
I feel like we have made identifying and living out our purpose in life way more complicated than it really needs to be.
So how exactly do we love our Lord with all our heart, soul and strength in 2019? We seek God above all others. We don’t just read the Bible, we live out its commands by serving and loving those around us. We demonstrate our love and gratitude for our good God with our words and actions. We are being obedient to God when we serve His body, the church, with sacrifice and love. God never misses a single act of kindness, regardless of how small it may seem to us. More importantly though, God desires a deep and intimate relationship with each of us. He wants our love and devotion more than anything else.
John 15:5,8 (nlt) Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
What you do matters. The church is most effective when each of us are living out our purpose in life together.
I now understand that the cleanliness of my clothes is dependent upon the agitator inside my washing machine doing its job alongside all the other parts. All the parts must be doing its job simultaneously with the other parts, so that it can fulfill its purpose.
The growth and maturity of the church is dependent upon each of us doing the work we were created for!
I hope you spend 2019 loving God with all your heart, soul and strength!