People are disgusting. That was my primary thought 30 minutes into a job that would ultimately take three hours. It was 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and I wasn’t in bed. I wasn’t even at home. I was at church. On my hands and knees. Vacuuming, scrubbing, and drying every one of the 400 chairs in my church’s worship center. And it was gross.
My family was still new to this church. We’d spent the past year hiding on the back row of all the churches in our area trying to find the one that would instantly feel like home. During that year “in the desert,” we hadn’t gotten involved anywhere. I hadn’t had any church responsibilities in a while, and honestly, my ministry-service muscles were pretty weak from atrophy. Maybe you’ve been there. So when the 5:45 a.m. alarm on my nightstand thrust me into our church-wide “Deep Cleaning Day,” I was … less than enthusiastic.
But here’s the weird part. I had fun. I laughed over orange juice and coffee with church members I hadn’t met yet. Together, we declared war on every stain, cobweb, and dust bunny in sight. Others joined me in my struggle against two years worth of hair, grime, and a mountain of inexplicable glitter stuck to the worship center chairs. We came together as a church to serve, and it was beautiful.
I left church after a few hours totally energized. In fact, I spent the eight hours after that doing yard work that I’d been putting off for weeks! Looking back, I was shocked at the burst of energy that propelled me through the day. Where did the energy come from? How did I get so excited about doing chores that normally send me running for the hills?
And then it struck me: God shows up when His people are joined together doing work in His name. And when God shows up, amazing things happen! I had forgotten how energizing it is to do some heavy lifting alongside other brothers and sisters joined in one mind and spirit. We weren’t just working; we were working for the Lord—and that’s exciting!
Reading through the book of Romans later, I found the secret sauce to Deep Cleaning Day: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:10–11 NIV) I believe this is what enabled a small band of believers to change the world 2,000 years ago. They never lacked zeal. They always kept their spiritual fervor. They worked long and hard, but they did it together, and they did it for the Lord. And that continued act of service kept them fueled and ready to do the impossible.
Thank you, Deep Cleaning Day, for reminding me that energy doesn’t necessarily come from Saturday afternoon naps. Sometimes it comes from a long day of hard work. Sometimes it comes from the excitement of serving.
But seriously, people. Stop wearing glitter to church.
Dr. Stanley teaches there’s no greater example of self-sacrifice and humility than Jesus Christ in his message, “A Servant’s Heart.”