Recently, we had a spill in our living room that threatened to ruin our couch and the rug underneath it. I knew I needed to promptly get the stain out, but I also knew I could just as easily ruin the fabric of our furniture in my efforts to clean them. I remembered a friend telling me about a guy she knew who could get ANY stain out of carpet and upholstery. I reached out to my friend and got this cleaning guru’s contact information and he quickly came to our house. I showed him the stains and he deployed his talents and made our splattered couch and rug like new. He left no indication that anything amiss had ever happened. It was like he turned back the hands of time to before the stain occurred. It was magical.
When I complimented him on his excellence in cleaning rugs and upholstery, he enthusiastically told me about the book he’d published on the subject. My eyebrows raised and I said, “You wrote a book on spot cleaning?” I thought maybe it was a glorified pamphlet, but when he jovially retrieved a copy from his van, I was presented with a 420-page book on spot cleaning. Four hundred twenty pages. On spot cleaning.
His eyes danced and his voice gave witness to his passion for removing stains. He found the chemistry of carpet cleaning “fascinating.” As we flipped through the pages of the book, it was as if he was telling me the most interesting story ever written. And in some ways, it was. It was the story of God’s sacred glory in his life. God gifted him with the interests and talents to make beautiful what was blemished, which made his soul sing.
We often think that to bring glory to God, we must do something large and grandiose – maybe something on a stage or worthy of an award. We recall heroes of the faith and wonder how anything we do could stack up against what they’ve done. However, God never asked us to stack up against anyone. As a matter of fact, we are told in I Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”
Most people know that particular Bible verse, but there is a lesser known passage that gives us a great picture of what “whatever you do…” really looks like. The third chapter of Nehemiah is easily skipped over – it’s even been called one of the least interesting chapters in the Bible. I humbly disagree. Nehemiah 3 is a list of workers who rebuilt the wall in Jerusalem. It seems like information that could have been omitted from the Bible, since at first glance it’s just a list of unpronounceable names and menial responsibilities. But God wanted those names included in His love letter to us. It would have been more efficient to just say that the wall was built and be done with it. However, I’ve learned that God never lets efficiency get in the way of His greater plan.
We’ve all heard of the Bible greats like David, Daniel, Peter and Paul. But do you know Meremoth, Meshullam, Zadok or Joiada? How about Uzziel, Rephaiah, Hattush or Hanun? These are just a few of the workers who are forever remembered for their faithfulness in rebuilding the city wall in Jerusalem. Their names appear in Nehemiah 3 as a tribute to their labor. They didn’t slay any giants or escape the mouths of lions. They lifted timber, stacked rocks, bolted locks and forged gates. Most of them didn’t even hold leadership positions. Instead, they are remembered and included because their hands rebuilt a wall of protection around Jerusalem. Fresh from Babylonian captivity, the Israelites were ready to start anew in Jerusalem and they needed a barrier between their city and any would-be attackers. Rebuilding the wall also allowed the Israelites to rebuild their population, which had dwindled in captivity. The all-important wall was rebuilt in a seemingly short 52 days, by regular guys using their God-given talents and gifts.
Built nearly 2500 years ago, this wall continues to honor those who toiled and labored. In 2007, an archaeological dig led by Dr. Eilat Mazar unearthed parts of the wall described in Nehemiah 3. That uninteresting list of names has suddenly become relevant again as the archaeological discovery corroborated the story recorded in the Bible. So consecrated was their work, that the wall not only blessed and protected its people thousands of years ago, it is being used to authenticate the truth of the Bible today.
The work itself – rebuilding a wall – might not have seemed glorious, but because it was done to the glory of God, the scope of work changed. It turned a common, arduous chore into a holy endeavor. That long list of unpronounceable names helps us decipher bigger truths – God sees us, the work we do matters to Him, and working for Him is eternal. Oh, and He delights in calling us by name.
Whether we are cleaning carpets, repairing walls, wiping noses or trying to make grilled chicken interesting again, we always have the option to choose an eternal perspective and do everything to the glory of God.
“First, to the Lord, my God, who gave me the patience, tenacity, and wisdom to acquire the knowledge, and the desire to create the most comprehensive book on carpet care.” The dedication at the beginning of the 420-page Art’s Ultimate Spot Cleaning book by Art Colo’n.
Lord, I pray you would help us to see holy implications of the work You’ve set before us. May every small task be seen as an opportunity to bring You glory. Let us stop jockeying for success, power, acclaim and worldly wealth. Please move us to glorify You in all You’ve given us to do. In every floor we mop, every sticky hand-print we clean and every dinner we prepare. Whatever we do, may we do it for Your glory. Amen.