Godliness is like moving furniture
I grew up in a nice town about 15 miles east of Times Square, the heart of New York City. My parents bought a modest home on a dead-end street there when I was a baby. I still can remember how my mother used to clean the house for the spring and summer seasons, an elaborate procedure that included rolling up the wool rugs in the living and dining rooms and hauling them up to the attic for the summer. Mom would bring down some thin straw rugs for the warm season, and all the upholstered furniture would be covered with slip covers. Dad would replace the storm windows with screens, and our house would be open to the outside air for several months.
It was a lot of work and as a result, the house had an entirely different feel for that time of year, particularly for my little brother and me, who played on the rugs. The winter wool carpet was much nicer to play on.
We don't do that sort of spring cleaning anymore.
I thought about how hard mom and dad's spring cleaning was the other morning when I was just about out the door, only to have my wife ask, "Could you come in here and help me for a minute?" I made a U-turn and walked into the bedroom to find the bed in total disarray and my wife holding a new bed ruffle in her hands. To install it meant that someone had to lift that heavy king-sized mattress off its resting place. Jean mistakenly believes I was born for such moments as these.
Well, I grunted and groaned and got that unwieldy heavy mattress on end. Then my gal proceeded to get the new ruffles perfectly placed. Then I quickly learned that lowering the mattress was far more difficult than raising it, and it is impossible to put a mattress back without disturbing those ruffles. I grunted and groaned anew with the chore made much worse by Jean's lack of understanding of the pain and difficulty I was enduring: Bed ruffles and their positions seemed to be far more important than me and my position. I was unhappy, but even so, I kept my mouth shut.
Suddenly, I received a thank-you kiss and a gracious release to go about my day. The bed ruffles were somehow miraculously in place, and they met my gal's expectations.
When I first joined the pastoral staff of a large successful church in California many years ago, I had visions of doing great things for God. I soon learned that church was more about moving furniture than doing great things, and that we set up and take down chairs and tables as a constant part of our pastoral duties. I also learned that pastoring included giving up your Saturday nights to come down to the church and pray over each empty chair in the sanctuary. There were thousands of chairs, and we would faithfully ask God to bless those that would sit there the next day. Pastoral duties also included policing the grounds to pick up cigarette butts, pieces of paper and discarded cups and bottles.
Great moments are few and far between for most of us. The Apostle Paul wrote that godliness is being content with your circumstances. I've learned that godliness is not determined by who I am or what I have, but by my attitude toward picking up mattresses and putting them back so as not to disturb a ruffle, cleaning up debris or giving up my Saturday night to minister to an empty chair where no one will ever know what I did.
You, too, can be godly. It starts and ends with attitude. My daughter calls someone with the right attitude a keeper. Are you a keeper?
The Rev. Murray Hohns is an associate
pastor at New Hope Christian Fellowship.