it is my joy.

dOne of the first things I do when I get home is get the mail. I'm currently living in a townhouse where the mailbox is not conveniently located next to the front door. Rather, it's in a shed-like structure approximately 100 yards down the street. I guess it makes it easier for the mailman to just make one stop.

Then I change out of my work clothes--usually into athletic shorts and a T-shirt; jeans if I'm planning on going anywhere-- then scoot down to the kitchen where I tackle the dishes: that sink full of sticky, smelly, how-in-the-world-do-two-people-use-this-many-in-eight-hours-and-couldn't-ya-at-least-have-rinsed-it-off pile of dishes. Pots, pans, plates, bowls, cups, utensils, silverware.

I open the dishwasher and take a breath, strategically taking note of what is present and sketching a layout in my mind so I can fit the greatest amount of dishes in this thing. It's all about efficiency. Strategery.

Growing up, our dishwasher was super-powerful, so I could load it (ha, like I ever loaded the dishwasher when I was little!) with ketchup piles still present and not worry about it. But this is different-- everything must be food-free before taking its seat, which makes it very difficult to tell if a load is clean or dirty.

My hands are usually soft and wrinkly by the time I get the dishes rinsed and loaded. I let the water run slowly over them the entire time because the cost for water here is a fixed price. Then I get a dishtowel and wipe down the counters, brushing everything onto the concrete floor (cafeteria style) since I'll come by with a broom and dustpan anyway.

Today, I'm not done. My roommate's aunt is in the hospital and I know she's extra busy being there and worrying about the care of her cousins. I run upstairs--grabbing the pile of cardboard boxes from next to the trashcan to throw into my recycle pile I'm collecting in my closet--and return with a handful of paper towels to wipe off the kitchen table and coffee table.

I love the coffee table. The top is a big, rectangular piece of glass on a wooden frame. The only downside is that it collects fingerprints, food, and fur very easily. It takes me several attempts to get it clean. There is laundry sitting damp in the washer, so I move it to the dryer. I need to do a load of my own tonight.

I am actually happy to clean. This is my opportunity to serve because I discovered early on that my housemates do not enjoy doing dishes. Usually they work 12 hours shifts, and it really only takes me 15-30 minutes when I get home from work. As John Piper would say, it is my joy! I do not serve merely out of Christian duty (where is the love in that?) Even though my housemates are not much different than me, they do not know Jesus. Nor do they know the God you do not have if you do not have Jesus. Serving them in love is my feeble attempt to show Christ to them. And it is my joy.

They lowered my rent from $450 in June to $300 in July and August. "Because you're nice to live with," they said. I hope they really mean because they see I'm different, that I serve because I am cherished by the God of the universe who, in response to His love for us, sent His Son to atone for our sins. It is my joy so they will know that Yahweh is Lord.

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