Dirty Dishes, Distraction and Defeat

It is quite amazing how God shows truth through little things that happen in life! Well, if we are paying attention that is! Have I got a story (and some truth) for you!

It all started when we moved into our rental house on Oahu island. Well, much happened before that as some of you know, but for this story, it started here! As you may or may not know, Hawaiian homes have limited, if any, air conditioning. But did you know, that opposite what happens on the mainland, Hawaiian homes don’t necessarily come with dishwashers? Almost all rental homes come with a washer/dryer (usually plugged up outside of the home) but they don’t necessarily come with a dishwasher.

Well guess what? Ours did not have a dishwasher and boy did this rock my little girl’s world!! In fact, we would soon find out that it rocked all our worlds. Why? Well, as God would have it, each and every person in my family would rather go to jail than do the dishes. And that’s when we have a dishwasher!! My husband and I figured that we would just push through doing dishes by hand. After all, as adults, we have learned how to just do things we don’t like (wink wink). We would have to show our daughter the good example of how to push through hardships.

And show her we did. We had to teach her how to do the dishes by hand because she had only learned how to properly load/unload dishwashers. And we loaded the dishwasher daddy’s way because early on in our marriage, we learned that arguing over how to do the dishes was stupid and we should just be grateful they get done. Who hasn’t had these types of lessons early on in marriage? After all, you’re learning how to live with another person. So we had conquered how to do this, right?

So, daddy showed her how to do the dishes when it was her turn. (We were taking turns in order to be fair because we all HATE dishes). Then we each had our turn and then one day, it was Anya’s turn to do the dishes again. I decided to help her out (it is a pretty big job sometimes). Noticing that it takes her literally FOREVER to do the dishes, I decided to show her some ways to be faster. And this is where it started.

My way was not daddy’s way. You see, my husband is very military about things. It has to be done just a certain way. And his way ensured that the enemy (AKA: germs and leftover food) were not just washed away, but were eradicated and annihilated in such a fashion that they will never exist on this planet again. In addition, there is absolutely no chance that you have missed even one tiny germ. Let me be clear… TOTAL ANNIHILATION. And as you may know, total annihilation takes a LONG time. For an 11 year old, about 2 hours long. (disclaimer: I actually PREFER daddy’s way when daddy is doing it. However, for an 11 year old, it is extremely time consuming and the benefit does not outweigh that.)

My way was a bit more efficient. I showed her a faster way. This way guaranteed 98% (at a minimum) were gone. There may (or may not) be 2% left. However, these germs aren’t going to be a problem because we have something called an immune system. These dishes were clean (cleaner than the dishwasher in our previous residence), but were not sparkling in the sunlight sending rainbows across the house because they were so clean. And, the dishes got done in way less than 2 hours.

Now my daughter was a complete mess. “I can’t obey both of you!”

So mom/dad decided to “talk” it out. And ooh did we! All of a sudden, this thing we had conquered early on in our marriage reared its head! After 16 years of marriage we were heatedly “debating” how to do the dishes!!! You have got to be kidding me!!

It was later that night that it hit me. I was thinking over the day, and the silliness of how we got roped into an argument over dishes, then God’s truth #1 hit me. What was this truth?

Satan never stops, and he is all too happy to use things from the past in a new way (even if you have claimed victory in that situation in your past).

Truth #1

Because Satan used something from long ago (so long ago that we wouldn’t have even remembered that we use to fight over how to load the dishwasher), we were caught slightly unaware. He used that, and tweaked it a bit. It was dishes by hand instead of a dishwasher, and it was teaching our daughter the “right” way instead of fighting with each other. It was the same argument, the same sin (pride), and it could’ve been the same result (a lot of littles building into a big catastrophe).

Just because we had conquered the issue 16 years ago didn’t mean that we couldn’t be defeated by the same battle years later.

But because of the fires Jesus brought us through in our marriage, because we have grown in maturity in our relationship with God, we were able to catch it early and conquer it again.

Satan will often use the method to thwart the end result.

Truth #2

What do I mean by this? Simple. Often, there are multiple ways to get something done. In this case, the dishes needed to be clean. Did it matter how they got clean? Not really. Just as long as they were actually clean. The method of how to do the dishes could’ve actually derailed us from getting the dishes done. Or worse, could’ve caused damage in our family relationships (which would’ve made Satan very happy).

You see, with two type A and slightly OCD, personalities there is a lot of potential for conflict. And that conflict can ruin a marriage. As most who are married (or have been) will tell you, little things can turn into huge things. And a lot of little things can turn into catastrophe.

In the big scheme of things, this episode with the dishes was no big deal. That was because we had learned the lessons earlier in our marriage, and were on the other side of some pretty bad years (and have the emotional scars to prove it).

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for us to realize the stupidity of arguing over how to do the dishes. I sat down with our daughter and worked with her on how to take the best of ideas from each of us and develop her own way of doing the dishes. After all, the main thing is that they get clean. The whole point is clean dishes, not the method in which you got the clean dishes.

Dishes (AKA: pride) were not going to get between us in our marriage, between us and our daughter, nor between us and God.

And that is often how Satan gets us. We focus more on the method/process than we do on the end goal. This is a sin of pride. How many ministries have been ruined because Satan got involved in the process? He doesn’t have to attack the actual mission, he just has to keep everyone distracted (and arguing) over how to get it done. In this manner, people quit, relationships are ruined, the goal may never be met (or if it is, it has less impact), and some may even leave the church.

Does this mean we should never discuss process? Of course not! Process/method matters. However, I think we all can truthfully say that often the process doesn’t matter as much as we think it should. With more humility we can honor God in the process


So there you have it. Two truths that came out of dirty dishes. Although these two truths may have been things we have heard before, God often uses common things to remind us of the truths we knew before. These common things not only remind us, but also work to ingrain them into our lives.

So the next time you do the dishes (with or without a dishwasher), take a moment to think about your victories. What have you overcome spiritually in your life? Take note. Reminding yourself of these victories will help keep you on guard should they come up again. Think about areas of contention in your life. Is there any way that you can show more humility? Does it really NEED to be your way? How can you honor God in the process?


Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Proverbs 8:13

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:10

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

1 Peter 3:8

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 12:16

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