Dirty Dishes, Consequences, & Free Will
This morning as I went to make my coffee I kept having to shuffle dirty dishes out of the way. Frustration started to take over, and I said firmly to myself, “No! He is hoping you’ll get frustrated and do them so he won’t have to.”
Some of you are already appalled that I was “shuffling” dirty dishes. Well, dishes are a chore in my house. The person who’s turn it is hasn’t taken their turn. So, the dishes remain dirty.
Have you ever looked at the evil going on around us in the world and wondered why God didn’t step in and stop it? We know He has the power, the ability, and He’s done it before.
He created the world. Surely He can’t be happy with many of the things that we do here. Why doesn’t He stop the evil things before they start? Why did He create evil people? Why doesn’t He just remove evil people from the earth?
God created each of us with free will. We are not puppets on a string. He has a purpose for each of us, but it is our choice whether we fulfill that purpose or not.
Part of that free will is having to live with the consequences of our decisions. Each decision we make is followed by consequences.
For example, if I decide not to go to school today and I don’t call in, leave sub plans, or answer my phone when the principal tries to reach me, I probably won’t have my job as a teacher for very much longer. The consequence for being irresponsible will be loss of my job.
If I decide to go to work every day this year, do my absolute best, get help when I come up against situations I can’t handle on my own, and truly live up to my potential, I will probably find advancement in my career. It is a consequence for my good behavior.
All of our choices have consequences…good or bad. God doesn’t remove the consequences of our choices simply because we’re His children.
Does God suffer because of our poor choices? I think He probably does. Scripture tells us not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit. I believe we do frustrate God when we continue to make wrong choices. I don’t believe He draws pleasure from watching us live out the consequences of our decisions.
Truth be told, I could do the dishes. It would make my mornings easier, make dinner prep (when we eat at home) easier, and return my kitchen to a state of clean. It’s what many moms would do.
Not this mom. It isn’t my turn. There isn’t any “good” reason for me to do this chore out of turn right now. What would I be teaching my child if I stepped in and took care of their responsibility just because they weren’t doing it in my timeframe to my liking?
So, I wonder, what has God called me to do, prepared for me to do, that I keep avoiding? What chore has He issued me that I think if I ignore long enough He’ll cave and just do it for me?
I don’t think God is any different than this mom. He isn’t going to step in and do what I’m supposed to do just because I’m rebelling. How do I know?
Jonah. Adam and Eve. David. Moses. Saul. All of these heroes of the Bible made choices that had consequences. Even though they had some great victories, they had some loses that could have been victories, but because of the choices they made they had to experience failure and defeat.
Sometimes I look at a situation with my human eyes and I want to cry out to God and ask, “Why? Why do You let them make You and us look bad like this? Take control of this situation. You are the boss. Clean this up.”
The truth, however, is that I am the boss of my kitchen. I use it more than anyone else. I cook the most, plan the menu, buy the groceries, and typically wipe down counters, sweep floors, and keep it in order. I could easily restore order to the kitchen. I’m not going to, though, because then the lesson, the experience would be lost and my child wouldn’t learn anything.
So, even though it seems wrong to let the dishes pile up, even though I have to wash my own coffee cup every morning, I’ll just be a little frustrated with the mess because I know that the consequences of putting off the inevitable will be a greater learning experience for my child than me doing the job for them.
Now, they have to do dishes from a couple night’s of supper instead of one. Their “easy” thirty minute chore will now take them an hour or more, and they’ll have time to reflect on what happens when we put off doing what should be daily work.
I’m reflecting now on the tasks I avoid hoping they’ll “go away”, that God will just re-assign them to someone else or do them for me. If I had been faithful to doing them all along, how many people would have been blessed instead of frustrated? If I would have been faithful to do the them all along, then how much closer would our relationship be?
What am I missing by putting off until tomorrow what I should have done today?