Why it happened right then, when she turned toward the stack of dishes on the counters, the squash peeling and apple cores and crusted pots, she had no idea.
No idea why it came right then, in the midst of kids and mess and loud, like a coming around:
How when you are turned away from God, life turns ugly, but when you are turned toward God, life turns lovely.
She could feel that in her — His love making impossible things lovely.
She turned the tap on. Turned in the whirl toward the dishes. Turned toward it again, like Mary on that donkey turning toward Bethlehem — how every Christmas miracle begins with a turning of direction.
Spurgeon had said it and she thought of it there at the sink, her hands dipping into hot water:
“To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred.
He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him.
He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament.
He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice.
He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.
To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel…
Peter saw a sheet let down from heaven in which were all manner of beasts and four-footed creatures, which he was bidden to kill and eat, and when he refused because they were unclean, he was rebuked by a voice from heaven, saying, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common” [Acts 10:15; 11:9].
The Lord hath cleansed your houses, he has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables… He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar —
if you know what you are and live according to your high calling.
You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live.
The sacred has absorbed the secular.”
That’s what she could feel it there at the sink — the turning.
The sacred absorbing the secular, even here.
Her Christmas becoming more.
And when she just kept at the laundry and the meals and the cleaning in those weeks before Christmas, it wasn’t like all the Advents that had come before.
Because the truth of it was, and she began the living of it — that He had come and already cleaned her house and her tables and her grime and made her pots and pans as bowls before an altar.
All your labor is holy when it’s all for your Lord.
And what God had cleaned, she could not call common again — her there in a sacred mess of grace.
Her breath there at the sink as incense.
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Advent Week 1: The Video Devotional for the First Sunday of Advent: Hope
Advent Week 2: The Video Devotional for the Second Sunday of Advent: Peace
Video Devotional: How to Have the Best Christmas
Christmas at the Farm with Lizzie (Liz Curtis Higgs) and Annie
Love Came Down Teapot
Love Came Down Teacup with saucer
What a beautiful and timely reminder. I will go into all I do with a renewed mindset again today. God has spoken this into my heart before but I had let it slip.
Teresa M. says
Ann, this so blessed me-everything is sacred, and rest on the bossom of God. This year has been so very difficult for me. I lost my mom in January, two beloved pets and my Beloved husband in April. My heart has been so heavy and the tears and depression seem to never end. The house is so empty as is my soul at times. Instead of running to my Saviour I have been angry and running away. Your beautiful devotions have been such a blessing. Through your beautiful words The Lord speaks volumes to me. He keeps calling and I am slowly but surely stopping to listen.
My pastor’s wife gave me your book “One Thousand Gifts” and as I slowly savor each word my Lord is speaking to my very soul. Lord bless you for sharing and caring in such an open and honest way those things He plants in your heart. He has given you an amazing gift and I thank you with all of heart for sharing that gift with us. With humble gratitude, Teresa
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you Teresa. May God swoop down and surround you with His loving arms. I pray you feel the warmth of His love daily!
Please come and be with Teresa. She had had to much loss this year. She needs your love & hugs. Help her to find you and run toward you this Christmas!
Praying for you today to feel and see God surrounding you.
I’m praying for you Teresa.
Love and blessings,
Tanya Leonard says
Beautiful devotion Ann! Your words grow deep in me and I love to absorb the beauty of your words in Christ. You are an amazing writer and I would love to meet you one day! You have blessed my life with a newness in Christ that takes me deeper into Him! I love the Lord so much and He is so precious to me! I am thankful for His grace! Hopefully if the Lord is willing our paths will cross one day and I will have the awesome opportunity to meet you! You inspire me! Thank you for writing for the Lord and living totally for Him! Hugs! Tanya Leonard
So lovely. What transcendent writing.
Beth Williams says
Loved this devotion Ann! Your are an amazing writer–God has truly gifted you. Thanks for sharing your talents!
Now when I work, do housework, whatever I will see it differently! Not as a chore, but as a sacred sacrifice for God!
Thank you, Ann! You are blessed in many ways. Thanks for sharing your love of Christ with us!
Always, always, wonderful to read your words as our hearts turn toward Jesus.
I think Marsha said it beautifully!Our family has ffaced many losses thru which our journey leads us. Thank you for your special spirit, Ann. Loving all in Christ!
Kathy Brower says
Oh Ann, I am standing in a similar space this season. All the glitter simplified for the humbling stable. And breath as incense? Beautiful. I am watching the breath of my sick baby in a hospital room even now and, yes, his is new incense. All my nose wiping, diapering, brow soothing? All done because he was and is such a special gift to me. His name is Judah. And he is my praise cry to God and I am honored to slow in the bustle and lay aside shopping for cradling. I wrote about it more too over in my own quiet space. I’m with you sister….
I’m praying for you and Judah and the whole family.
Love and blessings,
Lisa E says
Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with the world. Your words have changed my life.
Dear Ann, I LOVE that Charles Spurgeon quote and also your application of it. When I do housework, I often pray for grace to see it as a way to bless my family and visitors, to make my home a blessing, but this brings me new light on my work as a homeschooling mother. (I’m gonna grade that science test unto the Lord!)
Ann, your words have changed my life too. I’m on #5069 of my gifts list. Left off for a while, and when God renewed my heart in November, I started up again counting His kindnesses.
Thankyou Ann……the continual battle with never being enough/doing enough of that which is sacred. How often I need to hear this truth. All is sacred. All is sacred. All is sacred. How on earth do I manage to draw categories around activities- the tick and the cross. This whole concept reveals my need for grace on so many levels. Thankyou from down under.xxx
Kathy E says
What an encouragement Ann! Sometimes our purpose gets clouded by our list of “to do’s.” At least that’s what happens to me. I trudge through life forgetting that all that I do -I do and to the glory of the Lord…You’ve reminded and encouraged. Thank you for this timely reminder Ann and many blessings to you and yours…
I echo what Kathy E. said. Need reminding and I thank God for you. All praise and honor to the One whom is my All in All. Julia
I love it! This is how I try to live out my day to day. I often forget and allow what I do to feel like a burden rather than holy. But it’s holy. It is worship unto Him. Thanks for the beautiful reminder, Ann.
Thank you Ann oh thank you Ann!!!!!! Wow!
Bev Cameron says
What a blessed privilege it is to be a part of this community of believers!
Thank you so much,Ann,for sharing your gifts ,your heart ,with us.
Teresa M- May God breathe His life into you this minute, hour, day, season — now. This is sent to God, the Creator/Re-creator., that He would fashion new life IN you- IN Christ. I will be praying for you, sister.
Maria C says
Lovely! And I would love the recipe for the delicious looking creation topped with whip creme in your beautiful photos. Please!
Marisa Slusarcyk says
As always, absolutely the perfect reminder! Thank you!
Praying for God to comfort you in the sadness and loss of this year.
Shirley Ann says
I am disabled and at the moment have a sickness bug too so reading your hope and encouragement is such a great gift to me. God is my constant companion, you Ann are a constant read. I Thankyou for your great effort of writing all your wonderfull God inspired words. May your Christmas be safe and peacefull and full of Gods Blessings. My prayers are with all who are suffering for Gods soothing balm to caress them and his angels wings to enfold them. Blessings to your lovely family Ann and thank. God your brother in law is well. Luv x
Thankful tears came, yes, Lord, all for you! Because He lives I can face tomorrow with thanksgiving in my heart!
So absolutely true and real, I enjoy doing the dishes and each time I try to wash out my own grime! Selfishness. Unforgiving so. Self pity and enjoy having His Blood wash me everyday. And now that chore has turned sacred. Bless you for sharing.
Vedawattie Ram says
When I happened upon your site on Dec. 1, I thought it was providential! I loved you and Liz sharing at the farm. The upside down tree concept is quite insightful. I am doing the advent candle activity! We started late, but we are catching up. Thanks for opening your life to me and thousands of others. I listened to several of your interviews and saw such a heart for God. Amazing! (Now please keep that real! Ok?)
Your writing touches my heart deeply. This particular one on sacred/secular is so precious. And I do agree with you that this sacred – secular dualism is not God intended. I spent a semester with Bakke Graduate University doing a very transformational course called: THEOLOGY OF WORK. You brought it out so clearly …like God in overalls… Thank you Anne.
I pray that you would be encouraged today as you do all that you do for HIS glory!