Glimpses of Grace in Homemaking

October 5, 2012 · 25 comments

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by Gloria Furman

Even when a homemaker is continually serving the Lord by caring for her family, guests, and visitors, it’s tempting to feel like this work is in rooted in a pointless cycle.

Dusting baseboards, taking out the trash, balancing the grocery budget, mopping spills– the list of perpetual tasks goes on and on.

Folding the same towels over and over again becomes a loathsome duty when my work is not unto the Lord. I groan like the writer of Ecclesiastes that my days “are full of sorrow” and my work “is a vexation” (Eccl. 2:23). Sometimes I collapse onto my pillow at night and I rehearse tomorrow’s list, adding the left-overs and do-overs from today’s list. Worries and weariness threaten to overwhelm me and even in the night my heart doesn’t rest.

How often I forget that the presence of housework is evidence that the Lord has blessed my home with life!

When I’m dishing up a hefty serving of the bread of anxious toil it’s helpful to remember God’s mercy and faithfulness.

This kind of forgetfulness seems like an innocent and passive thing. But most times I forget God’s faithfulness it’s because I’m fixated on a promise that the world has offered to me.

Empty promises sound wise and hope-full:

  • There’s Apathy: “Oh well. Whatever.” I declare emancipation from the obligation to take care of my home. I shrug off my responsibilities, revel in my guilt-free-ness and duty-free-ness, and scoff at the idea of making an effort.
  • And there’s Control: “More! Better!” I sentence myself to additional, self-imposed expectations to tighten my rein of control on the chaos. I stack up these unreasonable expectations next to my pride, measuring myself up to see if I’m enough.

The world’s empty promises appear like a passive dew, watering the roots of bitterness as they wedge their way deeper into our hearts. Of course, there are other empty promises out there masquerading as the solution to facing the daily grind. None of the things we’re tempted with are new. Recall what Paul said over two thousand years ago,

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

About one hundred and fifty years ago, homemaker and songwriter Annie Hawks felt that she needed the Lord in order to persevere in her work as a homemaker.

Annie wrote:

“One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out him, either in joy or pain, these words, ‘I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,’ were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me.”

Annie knew that God did not leave her to the mundane business of homemaking without any hope or help. She understood that the assuring presence of the Lord was hers every hour she needed him– which was, indeed, every hour:

I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.

A weary homemaker might look to many fake saviors for peace and help. But the God who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see, and to whom belongs all honor and eternal dominion (1 Tim. 6:16), tells us to seek his face.

  • “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Ps. 105:4).
  • “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek’” (Ps. 27:8).

The joy of an artfully-decorated cake is short-lived. The dust eventually settles on an idyllic living room. The elements of our home that bring us delight are good things, but they are only created things. They are shadows, reflections, glory-refractors, if you will. Look closely– focus– with the eyes of your heart. Do you see the glimpses of God’s grace? Your work is a gift… that means that above all joys the highest joy to be enjoyed is the Giver.

And he is worthy of your worship this hour and every hour.

In the Lord’s presence there is joy with a magnitude and endurance that our finite minds can hardly fathom because it’s full and it’s forever.

When our work in the home is unto the Lord, through the Lord, and for the Lord, we find that he does not fail to satisfy us. And when our hearts struggle to feel this is true, we declare by faith, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Ps. 73:25).

Related Link:

  • Indelible Grace has arranged a great track for Annie’s song that you can listen to here (Track #14).

ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim Shay October 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

My house is clean all the time now that my children are all out of the house. Some days, I don’t utter a word for hours unless it’s to reprimand the dog. When they come home, it is noisy chaos and my clean home instantaneously becomes filled with clutter. Those moments are when I am reminded what a blessing the return of those children is. The housework no longer reminds me of my blessing; the mess does.

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2 Lindsey Carlson October 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Oh Gloria, this is exactly what God’s been showing me this week! I want to live in the pre-fall, pre-curse state of completion. I am so slow to recognize when the ground is rising up and fighting against me. God has given me a domain and the work isn’t the curse, the fighting back against me (getting dusty and dirty towels) is. Thanks for the reinforcement.

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3 Lore Ferguson (@loreferguson) October 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Gloria,
This is really beautiful. I’m single, so in this season I’m pretty intentional about not being home a lot. I want to make home a safe, beautiful place of ministry, but I also understand that the flexibility I have as an unmarried person is a sweet gift from the Lord and I want to busy myself with His business—whatever it looks like for me for that day (I Cor. 7:34). But even in that there is just the daily chore of LIFE to be lived, and lived alone. So this is deeply encouraging. He has made the world my primary place of ministry and it’s not always going to be clean, or orderly, or hospitable, but it is a good work.

Thank you!

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4 Luma October 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm

So good for my heart this morning! Thank you, Gloria. Yesterday I put on David Platt’s Secret Church: The Cross and Suffering while mopping. As I was washing the floor I could feel the Word of God wash over my soul.

“glory-refractors” yes indeed!

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5 Tim October 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Gloria, great job with the Annie Hawks story and her testimony to what it means to be with God in every moment of the day, whether folding towels or enjoying the kids’ mess.

Tim

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6 Mel October 6, 2012 at 7:16 am

Gloria,

The Lord used every word you wrote to deeply convict me. Thank you very much! I have been so guilty of complaining that my housework is “worthless” and “kingdomless” as well as total opposite, determining to be super christian woman and add more things on my plate that i can’t possibly handle, only to get discouraged all over again. I go to your website every night once everyone is in bed to feed my soul and i am so grateful for your ministry! Lord Bless you and all involved in it.

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7 Gloria Furman October 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Lore, thank you so much for sharing your reflections! I’m so glad to hear how the Lord has encouraged you. I don’t think we hear from the perspective of single women in the home enough.

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8 Lore Ferguson (@loreferguson) October 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Thanks! I agree, we don’t hear about it enough. I write about it a lot, but I haven’t found very many other bloggers who do. Sadly.

I learn a great deal from my married friends, but I think there is much to be learned from unmarried women and how they “do” home as well! Thanks for the affirmation. Love your blog.

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9 Kendra October 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Thank you so much for being the vehicle by which to deliver this message! Especially your reference to “I Need Thee Every Hour”. I am always so blessed to hear the testimony behind a song’s inspiration. I immediately went and put Jars of Clay’s version on and what a soothing balm it was to my soul! I have been homemaking for over 15 years and the truths you shared here are very familiar to me. But even so, it is a continual battle keeping an eternal perspective on my calling as a Christian wife and mother. It truelly is a gift that I take for granted all to often!!!

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10 Alisa October 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I read this post yesterday and enjoyed learning about the history of an old hymn i sang growing up. Then last night my father-in-law came over for dinner and i made a big mess cooking dinner, which my husband so kindly said he would clean up in the morning. He didn’t clean it up…and as I started to do it this morning I kept talking to myself trying to let go of the resentment I could feel welling up (why did he say he would? did he just forget? i would’ve just done it last night…etc) and suddenly the chorus of that hymn popped into my head.

sometimes it’s difficult for me to not think I deserve some reward after I do something I didn’t expect to have to do (like those dishes) but the Lord helped me to see and feel that recognizing my need for him to even get dishes done and have a loving heart during it IS my reward. That allowed for a sweet moment of worship this morning.

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11 Adriana March 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

“The presence of housework is evidence that the Lord has blessed my home with life!”
I’m tweeting that now.

Such an encouraging post! I admit I often think of housework like Anne Shirley thought of her red hair:

“It will be my life-long sorrow!”

But you are SO right — God is worthy of my worship! Beautiful thoughts on Annie Hawks.
I really enjoyed your guest post at Tim Fall’s too. I look forward to reading more of your work and getting to know you better through your blog. Blessings! ♥

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12 Gloria March 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Thank you so much for your encouragement, Adriana!!

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13 Adriana March 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

:) BTW, I tweet as Classical Quest. I followed you today! :D

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14 shera Jay May 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

A group of us want to use this book for a book study would you tell me how many chapters the book has.

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