On a Saturday morning, I slide a warm and earthy pear and apple cake into the oven, the kitchen lit with stove warmth and the cast of a fall morning. I turn to the sink and begin to scrub the burnt bits of apple out of my dutch oven. Last night, I performed a juggling act of a dinner cooked and apple butter simmered and asparagus roasted all in an hour’s span.
I scrub. And I think of all the things I could be doing instead of scrubbing this pot. Again. I remember how weeks ago I actually timed how long I spend shoulders bent over the sink, hands plunged in soapy water. I remember how I tucked my knees under at the end of a long day–nestled into my tweed couch–and declared that time to my husband, angry almost at the minutes swirled down the drain.
I feel that restlessness right now. How many things I could do with these minutes spent scraping brown bits off the bottom of a pan! I bristle at the circular nature of this work and how it seems to get me nowhere, how it seems that as soon as I’ve hung the damp dishtowel on its hook there are more dishes tottering high.
I pull roasted almonds out of the oven and attempt to whir them around in my food processor, hoping they’ll form into butter. I give up after trying and trying. I think about the cake. It’s built of coconut and almond flour and other things and it might completely fall apart outside of the pan. And I think about how forty-five minutes ago we could have all just eaten toast or cereal or instant oatmeal. I think about the hunger pains brought on by spices and fruit and maple syrup heating through. I think about how that first bit might be disappointment personified.
The restlessness is back, nibbling away at my heart. How many things I could have done with these forty-five minutes! I’m preparing to teach on Galatians 5 tomorrow and I don’t have any A-ha! type of moment and I feel jostled somehow. And when I pull that cake out of the oven I can see that it will be off somehow.
And I realize how I want all of my work to have a glory-filled, happy, job-well-done punctuation mark at the end. I want work that gets me somewhere, somehow. I want work that feels important.
Except this is not the gospel. The gospel is moving downward–doing the hard work. The gospel is seeing Glory in the work I’m given instead of seeking my glory in the work I’ve completed. All I really need to do is what He has asked me to do. He fills in.
And so I’ll serve the failed cake and I’ll keep doing the dishes and I’ll pray that I meet Him in my work.