Back when people still washed laundry in tubs on the woodstove, Kathryn Kuhlman tells of a day her mother had the water boiling and was ready to start the wash. Then, someone called asking Kathryn’s mother to come to the hospital to tend to a sick relative. As her mother went out the door she said, “Now, don’t touch anything, Kathryn.”
Young Kathryn, however, wanted to help her mother. She knew that Monday was always wash day and the whole week would be messed up if the wash did not get done today. So, she got all the whites together and put them into the boiling water and started working them around. When she thought they were done, she wrung them out and put them on the line to dry.
Feeling so successful, she proceeded on to the next stack of laundry: the colors. After washing these in boiling water, she proceeded to put all the woolens in, as well. She hung them all on the line outside.
Kathryn was so excited, just imagining her mother’s face at the sight of the whole day’s laundry being done and hung out. Her mother did not return, however, and around five o’clock, Kathryn decided to take them off the line and fold them. She stacked all those clean clothes up on the kitchen table so her mother would see them when she walked through the door.
Finally, her mom showed up that night, exhausted from a harrowing day at the hospital. Kathryn looked up at her, radiant with triumph over having completed all the laundry alone. Her mother stopped at the pile and just stared at the wool clothes that were shrunk beyond recognition. She looked over her expensive shawl which would now only fit a child. She looked at the faded clothes that should not have been boiled. Then she looked at Kathryn’s radiant face, smiled, and said, “Thank you, dear.”
As God’s child, you are already approved
God looks at us like that. Sometimes we go through all kinds of gyrations to try and impress Him. We do our best because we want to be pleasing in His sight. I wonder how often our efforts are just like that pile of warped clothing. Yet He still smiles and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Of course, we should not try to excuse sloppiness or slipshod morals. I am not talking about God approving everything we do. I am talking about a God who understands when our hearts are in the right place, but our actions might be off base. Like the man wearing the sandwich board sign saying, “Repent or perish.” This is not the most effective way of reaching the lost, but perhaps he is doing it out of a love for God.
So many books have been written on parenting, prayer, worship, and every other topic dear to Christians. I wonder how much of our expert insights are simply children handling the wash. We all know we want to please Him, but maybe none of us know exactly how. I have heard faith defined a hundred different ways. I know of people who do a lot of fasting to please God. I know of others who believe they are pleasing God by doing a lot of feasting.
Aside from the confusion we create in our efforts to become experts, we must make sure we never let go of one important factor. That is what Kathryn Kuhlman’s mother thanked her for. She was not grateful for the hundreds of dollars worth of damage to the family wardrobe. She was not grateful that her daughter ignored her orders to not touch anything. She was thankful for the one characteristic that motivated Kathryn: desire.
Desire for the Lord gets commended
Everything you do your best at in life you do because of a sense of desire. While we do not talk about this much, it is what keeps hope alive and keeps people thriving in their walk with God. If you lose your desire for the Lord, you religion is a fraud. You are an empty shell of hypocrisy, just doing what you are doing in hopes of getting something in return for it.
Is your prayer-life lame? Then you do not need to learn new techniques on prayer. You need to rekindle your desire. Do you reach out to lost souls? If not, you probably do not need to memorize more scriptures to prove to them their need for a change. You need to recharge your desire to reach the lost.
There is prayer and then there is deep prayer. There is praise and then there is deep worship. If you do not find joy in your worship or fire in your prayers, you are lacking desire.
We need desire in most every other aspect of our lives as well. If you are doing a poor job as a parent, you probably do not need to learn more techniques. Even some very ignorant people have been great parents because they deeply cared about their kids. Great marriages are not built on date nights and cruises. They are strong because the desire is kept alive, not just commitment or faithfulness, but real passion for one another.
To get desire, dump off the baggage
Just as a hot air balloon floats higher the more weight you let off, so a believer gets closer to the Lord by getting rid of things that tie one down. If you want more desire in the things that matter in your life, you need to get rid of the distractions.
Jesus expected His followers to fast, give, and pray. Giving to the needy and to the kingdom of God keeps you alert. Fasting will deepen your prayer life because you get your eyes (and stomach) off all the other distractions. You slow down and focus for a time on what really matters. During your days of fasting, you will find yourself more passionate for God.
Jesus warned that His people had fat hearts that could not know Him, plugged ears that could not hear Him, and blurry eyes that could not see Him (Matthew 13). If this describes you, then take some time away from all your distractions. Turn off all the electronic gadgets. Close the door of an inner room. Get alone with God until you feel like being alone with God. Once you reconnect with a pure desire for God and His Word, you will find life with Him to be sheer joy.