It was 9:00 p.m. My husband was watching the tail end of a baseball game, cheering on his favorite team. Six months pregnant and exhausted from the day, I decided to go to bed early. But on my way to our bedroom I spied a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
In that moment, dishes were the last thing I wanted to do. Yet, I knew it was better to knock them out then rather than push it off until morning. And so, in my exhaustion, I turned on the faucet and began to grumble.
He’s literally just watching baseball, can’t he help?
I have done the dishes the last three nights.
Doesn’t he know I am pregnant?
I became hot with anger. Dishes clanged against each other. My pride swelled. My compassion shrank.
And suddenly, I was snapped awake by the sound of shattering at my feet. While my mind was elsewhere, my hands dropped a glass cup. Who came running from the living room to help? The man I was just complaining about in my head.
“Are you okay, sweetheart? Go to bed, honey. I will clean this up and take care of these.”
I immediately burst into tears and confessed why I dropped the glass. I felt ashamed of myself.
I know that the gospel changes everything, even the most minute details of my life. But what about when I am exhausted at 9:00 p.m.? What about the moments when I am weak?
Oh, how grateful I am for grace. Grace found in a hug from my husband. Grace found in Christ’s willingness to die on the cross to save a sinner like me. Grace found in tomorrow, a new day to grow in Christlikeness where I failed today.
And so I went to bed determined. Determined to see the simple act of dish-washing through a gospel-lens. What does this look like?
Here are three passages of Scripture to help you fight grumbling and infuse worship into the everyday, seemingly mundane areas of your life—cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, waiting in carpool lines, etc.
1. Dirty dishes prove God’s provision for you.
“You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.”
Psalm 65:9–10 (NIV)
As we fill our shopping carts in a culture of convenience, we can easily forget where our food comes from. Before our food gets packaged or processed, its ingredients were created by God—the waterer of the earth, the giver of sunlight, the sustainer of all life. God is the God who blesses the crops and provides people with grain. Yet when our dishes are stacked high, we overlook this blessing. Each stain on our plates is a reminder that God has given us provision for today and provision for eternity through salvation in Christ.
2. Dirty dishes are a sign of life.
“Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is empty,
but an abundant harvest comes through the strength of an ox.”
Imagine your house without the pitter-patter of little feet. Or the chatter amongst your roommates. The dishes that pile in your sink are evidence of God’s grace abounding within your home. Dishes are a sign of another day of mercies given—another day to point your house to the Lord. Where there are no people (no children, no spouses, no roommates, no friends, no small groups, no you) there are no disciples being made in your home. The messiness of your kitchen can remind you of the purpose of your home—a place where God may be glorified and the gospel be made known. A place that shares the love of Christ with your neighborhood.
Yes, a house absent of people would be tidy. Pillows would remain in their place. Dishes would be manageable. Laundry would be a minimum. But messy houses and dirty dishes are a sign of life—a reminder that your home is filled with hearts that need Jesus.You have the privilege to be a laborer in the abundant harvest—a participant in the expansion of Jesus’s kingdom (Matthew 9:37–38).
3. Dirty dishes are evidence of fellowship.
“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread… “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish.”
What a beautiful moment. Jesus had died and resurrected, and now is appearing to His disciples to spend final moments with them before He ascends into heaven. Jesus could have spent time with His disciples in any other way, but He chooses to cook them a campfire breakfast on the shore. Jesus chooses to serve His disciples. Jesus chooses intimate fellowship over a meal with His closest friends.
If Jesus prioritized fellowship, how much more should we who seek to follow Him?
In the moments after your small group leaves or after the kids go to bed or your friends head home, you can look at the aftermath of dinner and be filled with gratitude. Fellowship is important. Fellowship is evangelistic, opening the door for gospel conversations that would not happen outside the context of friendship. Fellowship is encouraging, lifting the hearts of one another away from the trials of this world and toward our triumph in Christ Jesus. Fellowship is a gift from God.
As we move into the rhythms of our week, there will inevitably be messes. My prayer is that we can approach our humble household tasks with the same humility as Jesus—that we may serve because we have been served generously by our Savior, who laid down His life to pay for our sins. Washing the dishes is more than just a checkmark on our to-do list; washing the dishes can be worship.
May our grumbling be turned to gratitude.
Additional resources for how daily work can point us to Jesus