Moving into my mother-in-law’s house has made me sharply aware of patterns of order. Now, I love order, but I’ve discovered that not every one has the same ideas about what order looks like! Just this morning, I had to use the “basin” towel to wipe down the shower since the appointed “shower” towel was not available. I tried my hardest to right my wrong before my mother-in-law’s discovery. Too late. She discovered the “basin” towel missing before I could replace it. She was totally gracious, but it did disrupt her world.
In my own flat in South Africa I also had an appointed rag to wipe down the shower. In addition I had a bath mat which I kept over the tub when not in use. Several years ago I was sorely tested as a hostess when I continually found the white bath math on the floor conveniently located for dirty shoes. After several days of repeatedly replacing the mat over the tub so it wouldn’t get dirty, my guests cleared up the confusion by explaining that having a mat on the floor in their homes was how you kept your bathroom beautiful! Conflict of order nearly did our friendship in!
These minor bathroom fiascos simply illustrate the wide variety of personal approaches to order. I’ve also discovered that it’s not good enough to have a sense of order (although some of us women might disagree with that statement). I’m learning how important it is to understand my mother-in-law’s detailed rules of order and try to accommodate as much as possible while living in her house! I try to get it right. I try to honor her as owner of her house. I don’t always succeed, but I try.
The issue of order has been nagging at me for several weeks. I overheard a shouting match between two parents outside my house while their daughter looked on, hearing the vicious cussing and name calling. I wondered how God felt about the disorder in this little family that he loved. And I questioned how God feels about disorderly conduct between believers, ministry team members, and ministers of the Gospel. How it must grieve him to see hearts sullied by insensitive comments, selfish attitudes, and careless words. His orderly world has been disrupted.
God loves order. He created a magnificent world with complex order that we are still trying to discover after centuries of scientific study! His natural laws oversee order, and he’s given us biblical truth to maintain order in relationships at every level! He is passionate about order in couples, in families, in teams, in communities, in cities, and in nations.
I might be able to argue sometimes that I have better ideas of order than my mother-in-law, but I can’t argue with God’s appointed order. It’s his house. It’s his rules. And he rules in unselfish love for each member of his household. His order is meant to benefit every person. Who can argue with that!
I have to be a learner in my mother-in-law’s house. And out of love and respect I’m in the process of adapting my own patterns to accommodate her rules of order for the kitchen, the office, the bathroom, and the refrigerator! How much more we need to constantly learn about God’s desired patterns of order and make alterations in attitudes, words, and behavior so as to accommodate his order for friendships, sexual relations, parenting, leadership, and church. So, here’s to continued learning, loving, respecting, changing, and accommodating. Let’s work to restore order in God’s house!