We spent the first part of this week helping our daughter get situated in her new apartment after spending the past year in South Asia. Unlike a couple years back, this time we did not have to move her furniture out of storage and in to the new place; one of her roommates took care of that for us. We did make several runs to home stores, and I even successfully put together a rolling cart from Ikea on the first try.
Jenna is returning to San Diego for a one year internship with CRU, the ministry she volunteered with while a student at UCSD. To commemorate this most recent move, I’m rerunning the pair of posts I wrote about the less than stellar performance I put in two years ago moving Jenna into an apartment for her senior year of college. Along the way, I learned more about Jesus’ righteousness and the gifting of the Holy Spirit. I hope you do too.
We spent a long weekend helping our daughter move into a new apartment. It was hotter and more humid than usual for the San Diego coast, but we couldn’t wait for better weather since her last year of university was about to start. Besides, this apartment was an answer to prayer.
First thing we did was pick up the moving van from the rental place, then straight to the storage unit where her things had been kept while she’d been serving in South Africa. Her storage space was inside a two story warehouse, upstairs and down a long hallway lined with plywood walls and padlocked doors, and no ventilation. Our first trip to the unit (and there would be several as we loaded up the moving van and our mini van with her and her roommate’s beds, desks, boxes, crates, computers, kitchen supplies and more) wasn’t so bad. It was early in the day and the second story hallways were only moderately-stuffy-but-not-over-warm. By the time we unloaded at her apartment, the part about not being overly warm was behind us. The day was fixing to be a scorcher. I was fixing to sweat up a storm. We made two more trips to the storage unit, and on each trip the second floor of that warehouse got hotter and stuffier and stuffier and hotter. Me, I got sweatier and sweatier. Add in picking up a queen size sofa bed and a solid oak dining set she found on Craig’s list, and the day’s work got hotter while I got sweatier. Moving finally ended well into the evening. We headed for a restaurant my daughter liked, but first I saw a nearby Eddie Bauer store and told my wife and daughter I’d just be a minute.
The clearance racks had exactly what I was looking for: a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. The cashier asked me if I wanted a bag and I said I’d rather go into the changing room and put on the clean clothes I’d just bought. He let me into one and I swapped my sweat-soaked shirt and shorts for new ones. Much better. I considered dumping the old clothes into a trash bin, but instead crammed them into the bag the cashier gave me and went to join my wife and daughter. They both commented that I didn’t stink nearly as much now.
Clean Clothes Aren’t Enough
The Bible often uses clothing when discussing spiritual matters. Jesus told a parable of a wedding feast where one’s acceptance by the host is signified by wearing the right clothing (Matthew 22:1-14), and John’s vision of Heaven includes people in robes washed white through the sacrifice of Jesus. (Revelation 7:13-14.)
But is it all just a matter of wearing the right clothes? Does God really say, “Here, put this on and then you’ll be clean”? I think not. We are not merely clothed cleanly and correctly on the outside while underneath we are still full of stink (like me at the end of that moving day sitting down to eat with my wife and daughter). The clothes, rather, are a symbol of what has first happened to us through and through.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19.)
We are new creations, not just dirty sinners with some clean clothes on the outside. When God looks on you, he sees you clean through. Clean through from outside to inside to back out the other side. It is as Jesus said, though, that we need him to make this happen:
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8.)
Clean clothes alone are not enough. But being cleaned by Jesus is more than enough. He has made us new and clean from sin, with him forever.
The second day of moving our daughter into her apartment started early. We hauled the last few boxes and crates she’d kept at her grandparents’ house to the apartment and then we were off to Target to load up on supplies for the kitchen and bathroom.
Each moment in that store represented another chunk of change shifting from our bank account to Target’s. I tried to just concentrate on pushing the cart up and down the aisles, following my wife and daughter as they led me hither and thither through the store.
Close to noon we finally finished shopping (as much as one is ever finished shopping for a college student’s needs). On the way back to the apartment my wife said, “This would be a good time for you to call Dave and Todd and have them take you to lunch.”
How considerate, you might be thinking. She’s OK with you spending time with your friends while she and your daughter work on the apartment.
Yes, and no. This moving adventure (as the writing on the side of our rented moving van put it) was about to hit the stage of lining shelves, unpacking kitchen, dining and bath supplies, and getting everything to fit into any and all available cupboard and drawer space. My wife knows how I am on this particular task.
I stink at it.
Dave & Todd
Dave and Todd sound like a pair of names you’d hear hosting a top 40 morning radio show. They act like it too.
They picked me up and started talking about where to go for lunch.
“Let’s go to the place on Garnet Avenue,” said Dave.
“We can’t go there,” Todd said. “It’s a dump.”
“I like the food there.”
“Tim doesn’t want to eat there.”
“So where were you thinking?”
“How about Tower 23?”
“We’ll never get a table,” Dave said.
“We can eat in the bar if the dining room’s too crowded.”
“Tim doesn’t want to eat in the bar.”
– At which point I quietly offered, “Anywhere is fine.” –
“See,” announced Todd, “I told you Tim wants to eat at Tower 23.”
We got a table, lunch was great, and those guys didn’t let up.
They dropped me off at the apartment after lunch and to my relief all kitchen, bath and dining boxes had been sufficiently emptied into their cupboards and drawers.
Getting the Right Fit
God gives everyone their talents, and almost everyone can contribute in some way or another in his kingdom. But not everyone can contribute in every way.
When God gave Moses instructions on how to build the tent of meeting – the tabernacle that would house the holy ark and the place where the priests would offer sacrifices in worship – he didn’t say that all the people should get out their tools and get to work. He said the skilled people would do the work and everyone else would provide the materials: gold, jewels, fine cloth, etc. (Exodus 35.)
In the New Covenant, there are also different roles for different people, and we are to honor each other’s work when it is the work God has given them to do. (1 Corinthians 12.)
I think this also means we should not feel feel guilty about not doing work that is the responsibility of other people. Take preaching, for example. People attending church probably don’t listen to the sermon thinking, “I really should be helping out. Should I go up front? There’s no reason the pastor can’t come sit down while I preach the rest of the message.”
It’s good to serve others, but not everyone is supposed to serve in the same way. Sometimes, as with Moses building the tabernacle, we can best get the job done by supporting those who do the work. And if we understand these roles correctly, we recognize that there will be other times we are the ones doing the work.
My job in settling our daughter into her new apartment included driving a moving van from one end of San Diego County to the other, repeated trips to the storage unit, loading heavy furniture into the van and unloading it back out again, assembling desks and bed frames, and more than one run to Target for supplies.
But I stink at shelf lining and cupboard loading, so I left that to those who could get it done right.