God in the Sink (Margie Haack, 2014)

Excerpt from God in the Sink
Last summer in the space of a few weeks, I received more invitations to speak than I had in the previous two years altogether. I was beginning to wonder if God was sending me a message. Like, you’re an okay person even if you’re a little discouraged and haven’t cleaned the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator for six months. It’s true that most of the invitations were not destinations, unless you’ve heard of Onalaska, WI or Hinckley, MN. I just wasn’t up to adding a speaking itinerary to my already anxious, over-wrought life. So I turned them all down except for this one, which I accepted quite by accident, though God may think otherwise.

I was having a weak moment just as I listened to the message my friend, Lisa, left on the answering machine about the possibility of speaking at her church when the mail arrived with one of my favorite clothing catalogs—which I usually throw away. But this time, I said to my husband, as I leafed through, “If I find an outfit I like, I’ll say yes.” It’d been three years since I’d actually shopped for anything special. I won’t mention which catalog because if I say it was K-Mart you might think I’m cheap and sleazy. But if I say Neiman Marcus, you’ll wonder how I could afford them, which I can’t.

I was stunned to find something I really liked. I even lapsed into Minnesotan, yelling, “Oh, fer cue-it!” Then I laughed, and looking at the ceiling, I announced, “I was only joking about accepting.” Then I felt so wicked, I only hoped God had a sense of humor, so to be on the safe side, I decided I had to say yes to this invitation. You immediately see the problem: this wasn’t because I cared about people or wanted to be used of God to encourage others.

The irony deepened when I learned the theme for the evening was “Extreme Makeover, Inside Edition,” and how we are often tempted to live as if the most important thing is how we look on the outside. I should have just bailed. But I had already ordered that great-looking dress. Somehow, in my talk I managed to segue from the introductory confession into the idea that the central reality of our lives needs to be Jesus and that anything else we place there, even if it’s a good thing, will eventually break our hearts. Which lately has been at the core of what I continue to learn about the Christian life.

Wherever Denis or I speak, we are usually invited to put out free samples of Ransom’s publications and a sign-up sheet for our mailing list, which I did. At the end of the evening most of my samples were left, and of the 200 guests, only two people signed up for our mailing list. By human measures this event was a minus for our ministry. But, of course, you can never be certain what things God will do with the material he has to work with.

One good thing: I’m still here, and not so dull-witted that I can’t appreciate the irony of my existence. It isn’t divine oversight, as if God failed to notice what I was doing or saying. No, he sees me very well, and it is strictly a matter of God’s loving kindness that I haven’t been snuffed out.

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From God in the Sink: Essays from Toad Hall by Margie L. Haack (Oro Valley, AZ: Doulos Resources; 2014) pages 109-111, originally published in Notes from Toad Hall (Christmas, 2005).