I spent part of my day today doing the laundry. Because I prefer to wear 100% all natural cotton button down dress shirts, rather than synthetic blends, doing the laundry requires the dreaded task of ironing my dress shirts.
While ironing, I reflected on my fabric preference and the similarities between ironing shirts and God’s activity in our lives.
Like my shirts, none of us are “ready to wear, permanent press.” God has made us all out of 100% natural fibers. My hunch is that he prefers the genuine article to the synthetic, and that part of the process of spiritual growth is to become even more authentic and real. In any case, we all have more than our fair share of wrinkles to be pressed out over the course of our lives.
I imagined what my shirts would say if they could comment on the process of becoming clean and pressed. My guess is they might scream… “Hey! What’s going on? I appreciate getting clean and fresh again, but does it have to be so painful? Aren’t you going a bit too far? I really did not appreciate the dousing and detergent I had to endure in the washer. Things got even hotter and less comfortable in the dryer! It felt like everything was spinning out of control! Boy was I glad when that was over! Now what’s with all of this heat, pressure, and steam?”
Of course, this metaphor breaks down pretty quickly if we ask “Does God bring difficulties into our lives in order to effect certain purposes?” I sincerely do not believe that He does. I think those difficulties result simply from living in a world composed of imperfect natural fibers and living lives that are never quite neatly buttoned down.
But what I do believe with all of my heart is that God is a great opportunist! He will use the difficulties which naturally occur as part of our very human existence for His very supernatural purposes in us, among us, and through us. He is able to bring good out of difficult, trying, and even evil circumstances (Gen. 50:20).
He rarely will wisk away all of our troubles, but often is at work to bring about a new era in our lives, even while we face a difficult tide of circumstances.
God might be working for something truly amazing in your life today in the midst of all the
“heat, pressure, and steam” that you are now enduring. God also might be calling you to be a conduit for His grace and an encouragement in the life of a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor who is, right now, this very day, “in the laundry.”
Phil Hohulin D.Min, is a grief counselor with the Hospice of the Miami Valley. The Hospice of the Miami Valley offers bereavement services to anyone in the community free of charge.