This weekend I had the privilege of attending a blogging/writing conference- Allume- and it was a beautiful thing. You can never predict the way God wants to use something in your life until you walk the path He’s leading. The entire weekend was joyful and Spirit-led. I stuck with my normal routine of tweeting my way through sessions… such a privilege to share the words of speakers who flow with the wisdom of experience and drip with the love of Christ.
The keynote speaker for the last session graced the stage with her artistic presence and words- Ann Voskamp. If you’ve never read her book, One Thousand Gifts, oh how much you miss. I first heard Ann last year at this same conference, and meeting her blessed my soul. Truly.
As you’ll see from the following tweetcerpts, the message exuded rich reminders of encouragement for her blogging sisters in Christ. To read the message in order, start at the bottom of the screen shot of each screen and read up, then move to the next screen.
I somehow managed to avoid the sobbing urge that overwhelmed my heart when Ann finished speaking. Her words above were timely and Spirit-led, but I tweeted nothing of the words that she spoke that caused my soul to turn over in turmoil. Not words that most in the room would give a second thought. Words that most people would lightly laugh at and move on. But words that touched a tiny piece of my heart that aches to have someone understand the daily grind and sacrifice.
In a portion of Ann’s message she delivered the above-mentioned words:
The secret to good writing is good living in secret.
Essentially Ann spoke of how our ministry to our families qualifies as “secret work” of Jesus. No one sees the dishes we wash. No one really admires our clean piles of laundry or scrubbing bathrooms. And then Ann lightly said something to the effect of
“No one congratulates us for the number of clean bottoms we wipe.”
You could hear a light chuckle over the room and the message moved on, more encouraging words to flow forth.
Many of my readers are aware of our family’s story- one of tragedy and triumph, yet a daily choice of relying on Jesus for strength.
But when Ann spoke the words I couldn’t tweet- the words echoed in the halls of my mind because…
I’ve been changing diapers for 16 years. I don’t mean sporadically. I don’t mean over time with seven children.
No, I mean since my daughter, Taylor, was born, I’ve changed diapers every.single.day. I’ve had periods of time where two or three children wore diapers. Oh, I don’t mind changing diapers; it’s a part of my service. Anymore I don’t give it much thought at all.
But to think of it as “secret work for Jesus?”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:37-40
I continually remind myself throughout everyday life that God has given me the privilege of serving the “least of these” every day in my home- God taught me to do this years and years ago. When I care for Taylor and I’m tempted to be discouraged over the physical demand to care for someone who relies on me for her every single need- from feeding, to clothing, to changing, then I remember that I’m privileged to have Taylor as my service to Jesus.
But when Ann said diaper changing was “secret work” for Jesus, I thought of the daily physical care of Taylor in a brand new light.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6
And the 6 hour drive home alone from the conference was a part of God’s plan as well, as I cried to my God to forgive me for finally comprehending His secret work. As Taylor’s disease is neurologically degenerative and her medical outlook is long-suffering and grim at best, I can tell you that I’ve embraced my secret work for Jesus with whole heart. Because I know that I won’t always have the privilege, though it has gone on for 16 years.
And as God would have it, my first duty after arriving home?
Changing Taylor’s diaper- my secret work for Him.
We all have our own secret work to do for Him- our service for which a part of us may desire a little affirmation. Perhaps we feel a small need for gratification as others overlook our need for just a bit of grace. Can I encourage you today that His longing to be close in your time of need is larger than any single affirmation?
Your secret work is seen by the One who matters.
Can you see Him?