Clean Jars

 by Deborah McCormick Maxey

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23 NKJV

I love new beginnings: a new store, class, book, craft, or skill. I still get a new notebook every fall and organize it with colorful dividers. And don’t expect me to downsize my big stack of blank journals, because they all have the potential for a new beginning.

But I had to learn to face beginnings I didn’t like. The summer I turned eight, my grandmother had exactly that lesson in mind. Involving my nemesis…. spiders.

When I “sassed,” her about a chore, she was ready. I followed her outside as she opened the door to a crawl space and pulled out a galvanized tub filled with old canning jars. Without tops, they were filthy with, dirt, bug parts and…dead spiders.

As I helped her move the tub to the sidewalk, keeping my arms stiff to create as much distance as possible, she gave me my instructions. “You are going to get these jars to sparkle. And I’m going to be listening for the most important part, you’ve going to pray out loud the whole time you’re doing it. Talk to God. Find ways to thank him.” Looking up she saw my scowl. “You can ask Him for strength or courage or whatever you need. But talk to Him. And Deborah…you’re not coming back inside until it’s done.”

We unloaded the jars on the sidewalk and carried the hose, hot water, and detergent to the tub. She left me sitting on the sidewalk pouting, believing she was torturing me just to get her jars clean. Glancing at the spider parts gave me major heebie jeebies. Granny poked her head out of the back door to make sure I was praying out loud, so to elicit sympathy and reconsideration I prayed for help. (Okay, there may have been some drama involved. Just saying.)

I was stubborn, but so was Granny. I knew I was going to have to clean those jars. So, I offered a sincere prayer for help. The next thing I knew I realized I could take the hose and squirt out the jars before I loaded them into the soapy water. I’d never touch the bugs!

That started prayers of true thanksgiving. I thanked him for the bubbles and soapy water, the way I could splash and make a mess, the warm sunshine, the shiny clean jars that could hold His beautiful flowers or the delicious fruit He gave us to make jelly. Happily, I talked to God in a continuous stream.

When I called Granny outside to see my finished chore, she asked me what I learned.

“Well…not to sass you back.”

“And?”

“Even with an icky job once I got going and saw I could do it, it turned out to be fun.”

“And?”

I was stumped. But as I started to speak, I started to understand. “Oh…I never felt alone. When I stopped complaining and started thanking Him, it felt like He was right there with me, like a friend. And He was having fun too.”

“Yes. Now load them back in the tub and we’ll put them back where they came from.” The depth of her teaching started to dawn on me. She didn’t need the jars. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23 NKJV).

Just like the water hose idea came after prayer, He would always show me where to begin. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).

Granny was big on memorizing verses and this is the one she gave me afterwards: “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

“That’s what it’s all about,” she said. Her lessons have lasted a lifetime.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website that focuses on miracles.  

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s first novel, The Endling, will be released by Firefly Southern Fiction/Iron Stream Media early spring 2021. Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: Did you have a relative that was a good influence on you in your developmental years?

Don’t Throw That Food Away!

by Kathy Collard Miller

Whenever Larry and I visited his parents, the issue of Larry’s weight inevitably came up. Although far from heavy, if Larry carried any extra weight, his mom warned him, “Larry, you know we have diabetes in our family. It’s only because your dad stays thin he doesn’t take medicine. Get your weight down.”

Larry would carelessly shrug his shoulders. “OK, mom.”

Unlike Larry, my mother-in-law’s warnings seriously grated on my nerves, for I knew when we finished eating, she would see the remaining mashed potatoes, grab the dish, and push the remainder onto Larry’s plate. “We can’t waste this,” Audrey would say. “Eat it.” And he would.

I would sit fuming. Didn’t you just tell him earlier he should watch his weight?

Every time we visited, the scenario flummoxed me. Why can’t she see how she’s not loving Larry well?

Not until many years later did I figure out what motivated his mother.

Audrey was raised during the Depression by a single mom. Her dad died when she was five years old. In those days, no one wasted anything. Larry and I became convinced Audrey was actually ashamed when something was wasted. As a result, she and her husband, also raised during the Depression by a single mom, counted every penny.

It was only when we identified Audrey’s fear that we finally understood her motive. Rather than feeling angry at her inconsistency, I now felt grieved for her, knowing it was her wounded heart that kept her from loving him well.

Paul stresses in Romans 15:1-2, 7: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up… for the glory of God” (ESV).

Paul defined loving well as choosing another person’s good. We can accomplish this through a motivation to see God’s glory in them. The more we desire God to be glorified, the better we’ll be empowered to love others well, even to the point of sacrificing our own needs.

When we conduct our relationships with the right motivation, it will impact how we love each other. Our desire to see God glorified will make a big difference in knowing the right thing to do.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller’s book, Pure-Hearted, from which this post is drawn, provides insights for purifying motives. Another book is No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, her story of God’s deliverance from being an abusive mother. Kathy loves to share with audiences how to trust God more by diminishing the underlying causes of poor choices. She has spoken in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Married to Larry for over 45 years, they are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California. Contact her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51ORMj3+bSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Kathy’s book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How does your desire to see God’s glory impact your actions and relationships?