Saturday, June 11, 2016

In a Perfect World I'd Build Castles in the Air and They Wouldn't Melt Like Suds

I left the dinner dishes to soak in the in the sink overnight. "They're not going anywhere," I say it more to myself than anyone else, but honestly, I wouldn't mind if they did.

In a perfect world my dishes would load themselves into the dishwasher.

In a perfect world, they would wash themselves on those evenings when I give up and go to bed.

While I'm dreaming up a perfect world, in a perfect world dinner would make itself when I don't feel like cooking and have used up the eating-out budget.

Green Rubber Gloves

I snap the rubber dish gloves on, clap my rubberized  fingers together in let's-get-her-done energy, and fish around for the drain plug at the bottom of the sink. The water is on the cool side of lukewarm.

"In a perfect world," I explain to myself and, okay I admit, to the sink-full of dish-soap scum floating on the surface of tepid water, "the sudsy hot water I filled the sink with last night would still be sudsy and hot."

In a perfect world, I'd build castles in the air and they wouldn't melt like suds.

I've been praying for loved ones who are far from the Lord. I have a picture in my mind of how close Jesus is to them. How is it, I wonder as the drain slurps scum, that He can be so close to them and they can be so far from Him?

He's just on the other side of the door knocking.

The drain knocks down the last shot of I don't know what kind of brew, burps loud, and drowns out my sink-side philosophizing. I wipe the mouth of the drain with one of the kitchen cloths my mom knitted for me; and I continue to scrape up my perfect world.

"In a perfect world, I would open the door for them!"

I rinse the cloth in hot suds, squeeze it out, hang it over the faucet to dry and I know I can't open the door for them. That's between them and Jesus.

I've opened the Bible for them, opened my mouth for them, opened my arms, opened my life, opened my heart and all the love I have in it that they might see Jesus there; but it's like opening the pantry doors for a hungry soul, and hearing,"There's nothing to eat," though I know I just stocked it with Costco-sized groceries.

I know that only they can let Jesus into their lives. And finding a doorknob in a heap of sin-yeah, sinners hoard sin-is like finding that gold ring I once accidentally dropped down the kitchen sink. I couldn't open the drain pipes under the sink to find it. Not by myself. I called this big German I married decades ago. He closed the space between his cave and my kitchen in about two strides, would've turned opened the pipes with his bare hands except that a wrench got in the way, and found my ring with the same ease that I'd like to have to turn open a few knobs of a few hearts clogged with last night's dinner scraps gone soggy.

Door Knobs at Home

esus talks about knocking at the door. I find it in my Bible, where He says, "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with Me."

He's not interested in last night's dinner scraps, melted suds, tepid water any more than I am at this moment. "Dine with Me," He says. "Open the door and dine with Me."

Isn't it perfect that Jesus knocks at the door?

In a perfect world, His voice is heard, the doorknob is found, turned open, and Jesus is invited in to dine.

Well, it's been so long since I've read these words. I've heard them far more often then I've read them. I'm surprised to find them not in the Gospels, but in Revelation. I'm surprised that these words are not spoken to those who have never heard the name of Jesus, but to those who have heard Jesus' name, have been church-goers, but are lukewarm toward Him. 

I picture two faucets running hot and cold water. I imagine the waters mixing in the basin. What does this look like in a lukewarm people? In those who have known the name of Jesus, may have been on fire for Him at one point, but who now say, "I am rich, I've become wealthy, and have need of nothing"?

I ask the Lord about these things. I  picture those who have not heard the name of Jesus, and I see in my mind just piles of worldly treasure stocked high in their lives.

I picture the lukewarm, those who say they have become rich and need nothing. I see in my mind every treasure-holy and unholy, clean and unclean, the name of Jesus just buried in a pile of many other names. "Lord! They couldn't find a door the size of a two car garage let alone a knob!"

The lukewarm,those who may have been saved, may have opened the door to Jesus, and then drove Him out-that's messy.

"So,"the Lord says ,"do not store up for yourselves worldly treasures. Where your heart is, so will your treasure be."

I've been lukewarm before. I've wanted one gloved hand in church and one not, and never mind the gloves. They're green rubber. They work in any temperature-hot, cold, lukewarm.

I've stored up treasures before, but seems the next day they're soggy and close to rusted, moth-eaten, maybe thieved. Green rubber gloves don't care much what they grab.

Hot Suds 

Well, I'm praying for loved ones. Their lives are clogged. They can't find the knob to turn; the table in their heart isn't set for Jesus, and yesterday's feast is soggy.

I imagine Him reclining at the table of my heart.

I imagine the most amazing fragrances wafting from the banqueting table and maybe in His kitchen the dishes do clean themselves.

I imagine He doesn't serve left-overs; and I'm certain His kitchen sink, the one filled with water from the river of life which runs crystal clean, has never burped.

I'm praying for loved ones, and I feel it. Conviction. Hot, cold, lukewarm-I've been all three.

I yank open the dishwasher door and start loading it.

I don't want soggy.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, June 6, 2016

What Every Clay Jar Needs To Know

"They're lost. That's all. They're just coming in to get out of the rain, and now they don't know how to get out," Mr. Terminex man draws out all Southern sympathy.

I'm picturing miniature blue and white striped umbrellas abandoned at the patio door by their creepy, and dead, owners.

Terminex man isn't sympathetic toward me, but toward them. He's got the hospitality thing going, and I'm not feeling the Texas "Drive Friendly" slogan. No. I'm waiting for Terminex man to aim the hose, pull the trigger on the metal capsule strapped to his chest, and to run them off the road they've been carving to the crack just under the door where the wooden strip has worn loose.

"So," I want to make sure he understands the dire situation here, "one of them stunk like a skunk, and another lit up like a firefly, but it didn't look like a firefly, and they're all this big!" I want to stretch my arms out, but I'm not telling a fish story; so I settle for the span between my thumb and index
finger while eyeing that canister, with growing anticipation.

He chats on about species of beetles, and tells me they're not building nests or foraging for food or up to no good. "They're just wet and hungry and lost, Ma'am."

I think I hear a cricket playing a violin score from across the room.

He unstraps the hose from the canister, shakes his head, pulls the trigger and over the hissing stream of chemical tells me, "This probably won't make a difference, you know; 'cause they've got hard shells."

Did he just cluck his tongue, tsk-tsk?

I now know more about beetles than I ever wanted to know. Seems to me there's been a crawly theme in my days as of late. A grub in my backyard, beetles in my home and I'm feeling a wee bit defensive about my housekeeping skills right about now. Terminex man wouldn't understand.

"Lord?" Yeah, He understands. "I don't get it. What's up with the beetles?"

He knows I have a favorite beetle, but that doesn't mean I want it on my floor. I've decided that my favorite beetle is only my favorite as long as it's outside blinking in the evening wood.

Maybe there's not much to say about the stinky beetles, except "Don't be like that." But fireflies? I know enough about them to know there's a lot more to be said.

"Go get that children's book you wrote." He's going to tell me what's up with the beetles. Mentally, I turn to the pages about fireflies, while I look for the book.

"Here it is!" I begin reading what I wrote.

"Fireflies have everything they need to glow. They shine their light from the inside out! It's just what they were made to do! You were made for God's light to shine inside you! Shine His light from the inside out, too! What do you think that means?"

Mason jars with solar lights inside of them hang from peach tree branches. I placed the small lights inside the jars, and hung them last summer. They remind me of the fireflies my children caught in jars on summer evenings in the tall grass, barefoot at wood's edge.

"Wanna do it again?" His eyes flicker firelight from within because that's what happens when you're filled with light.

"You mean make another firefly jar?" Just to clarify He's not asking if I want to run in the tall grass in my nighty and barefoot. What would the neighbors think?

"Mm-hmm," there's a smirk in His voice. He knows I have one remaining solar light and mason jar left over over.

We unscrew the lid to the jar, and the solar head from it's stand, and I decide whether to fill the jar halfway with colorful plastic beads, or blue sand left over from one of my children's craft projects years ago, or the bedazzle beads left over from the jeans we bedazzled and painted AHS down the legs for Senior Spirit Day at Allen High School.


"Hm-mm?" Is He sharing the same memories I am?


"Mm-hmm, I remember."

The blue sand is too blue. I don't mind being a bit sentimental, but I stop where it turns kind of melancholic. I pick the bedazzle beads and pour them into the jar, "Fill me with Your dazzle, Lord!"

He is dazzling.

"My pleasure!" I think He loves dazzle. He loves gems. He must love the sea of glass which dazzles as crystal before His throne and, I imagine, because of His light. And isn't there a rainbow around His throne, in appearance like an emerald? There is. I read it in Revelation. I've also read that He Himself is in appearance like jasper and sardius gemstones, and that He possibly might see me in appearance as a ruby. It's how He describes the infamous Proverbs 31 woman who is, if anything, His ideal.

I stand the solar light in the bedazzle beads. Gems. And I dress it up with a splash of red before I take a picture because I'm getting into this gem of a gig!

"I'd like to bring Your joy, Your care, Your energy to others with as little effort as it takes these solar lights to light up, or even better, that it takes a firefly to light up and play." I'm thinking that if it feels as heavy burden to bring the light of God to others, then I'm probably striving to make my own light.

I measure out some twine and snip it.

"Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify Me." He reminds me of His word.

"You put Your light in me!" Letting my light shine just happens when my light is His light given. It's as if He says to me, of His light, This is yours. I'm giving My light to you. Play with it!

"Wanna go hang this on the branch out there?" I play with Him.

"Let's go!"

I'm finding out that it's all joy to shine the light that He put in me to shine. I'm grateful that it's His joy to bedazzle me. It's what He does.

I hang the firefly jar around the old branch, stand back and look at the firefly jar and sense His pleasure. "It's like a necklace of gems and light!"

"It's a garland of grace," He whispers His delight beneath the green canopy of leaves overhead.

"Ah, yeah." The words are mostly just exhale in the breathtaking. "A garland of grace."

I'm not as a glass mason jar. I'm clay jar. I'm cracked in places. But isn't this what grace is for?

Isn't grace for the cracked clay jars?

Isn't it grace that His light shines through the cracks where I've been broken?

It is, to me.

It's grace that light shines through the hard shells of firefly beetles, too.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig