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By Monica deRegt

My kitchen is a disaster. An absolute mess. It didn't start out this way. In fact, we had a very light lunch and it probably would've only taken me a few minutes to clean up after we were done eating. However, my two oldest children decided they needed to do something good (it's been a bad morning), and so they conspired together, within my ever-present earshot, to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. I was banished to the living room, where a couple of unfolded loads of laundry awaited me, and my children excitedly jumped into their top-secret plan to surprise me with great fervor. Hard as it was (remember, it's been a bad morning!), I decided to allow them to attempt this plan and to receive their efforts in the spirit they were conceived in. My children wanted to do good and make me happy, how could I squash such noble ambitions?

But, as soon as they started, the problems began — first, they couldn't find the scrub brush, then they ran out of dish soap (it's so fun filling the sink with clean bubbly water that they felt the need to do it several times), and then the inevitable fights about who gets to do the important jobs, and then the whining about how it's too hard, and they wanted to find something more exciting to do ... suddenly they reminded me exactly of Christians trying to do ministry work! I just about laughed out loud.

How many times have we started something with such a great attitude and motive, only to have it quickly turn into something we resent or get bored with? How often have I let things like ego and the thrill of something new get in the way of the real reason I should be doing something? And like my kitchen, it usually ends in a far bigger mess than it was in before I decided to get involved.

Now, much later, with much prompting and encouragement from me, and with lots of checking in with me for direction, the kids managed to do a half-decent job on the kitchen. There were a few scary moments with sharp knives (they weren't even dirty, but the kids decided to wash them anyways — how just like us and ministry!), and another load of laundry needs to get done now after all my tea towels and dishcloths have been used to mop up the excess water. I still need to go in there and finish what they've started. But I'm glad they did it, and I'm blessed by their efforts, and they did in fact, make me very happy. And now they know a little more about how to clean up a kitchen!

Ultimately, that's like us and God, isn't it? He could just step in and do it all perfectly for us instead of watching us first make a bigger mess and then helping us do it in our own un-perfect way. But God doesn't, and through the messy process, we bless God through our desire to please Him, and we learn along the way that we don't have it all figured out, but that we need God's constant direction, encouragement, and prompting. And with Him holding our hands, the job gets done and we slowly learn to be more and more like Him.

May God hold your hand and give you direction as you and your spouse bless Him with your efforts in ministry to youth, and to your family! And may you be comforted by the fact that He is ultimately in control, and without being in constant connection with Him, the job won't get done!

Oh no, gotta go ... now the kids have decided they want to do a load of laundry on their own ...

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