Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Do All that Needs to be Done"

Numbers 4.26c NIV

“The Gershonites are to do all that needs to be done with these things.”

My wife and I used to have a small communication issue. She expected me to know certain things she thought. I remember wishing she would clearly inform me of the things I should know.

A few years before she died, my wife pointed out that there was a full basket of clean laundry at the foot of the stairs. I heard her and verified she was right. There was indeed a full basket of clean laundry at the foot of the stairs. I even acknowledged her comment, “Yes. I see that.” I thought that was the end of the matter. I later discovered was there was more to the message than what met the ear. Imbedded in the communique was a deeper, hidden message: “If you go to the foot of the stairs you will find a full basket of clean laundry. Would you please take that basket up to the our bedroom?” My wife expected me to know what she meant. This was a repeating issue in our home. I routinely heard other similar comments... “The lawn needs mowing” and “The garbage can is full.” She expected me to comprehend the deeper message behind her statements of fact.

Maybe I’m not as stupid as I sound. Perhaps I don’t really want to understand the hidden meaning. It’s easier to listen than act (i.e., hear and acknowledge the statement and then quickly move out of earshot). This strategy works well for me. Somehow the laundry basket always made it to the bedroom without any help from me. However, I think my wife expected more from me. Jesus probably does too. 

The Gershonites were responsible to carry the furnishings of the Tabernacle from place to place during the Israelite’s 40 years of wilderness wanderings. These furnishings included tent coverings, courtyard curtains, ropes, and equipment of various kinds. It was a big task to take down the Tabernacle, move it, and set it up again. It took 7,500 of them to complete the task (Numbers 3.22).  I assume there was more to the job than the brief details found in the biblical account, so God issued a broad command... The Gershonites were to “do all that needs to be done.”

Could a man like me ever be sensitive enough to actually see “all that needs to be done” before my wife even pointed it out to me? Thankfully, she didn’t expect me to be a mind-reader. My wife was never demanding but always willing to tell me “all that needs to be done.” She was apparently called by Jesus to help me see the reality that surrounds us. The rest was up to me. 

My dear wife is in heave now, but God gave me two decades with this amazing woman to teach me how to be a good Gershonite and “do all that needs to be done.”


One Sided said...

All that needs to be done.
With my wife's illness all that needs to be done is a lot. ANd I find I have to decide what has to be done with the time I have available. But in all of that I have discovered I am able to do more and do it even better that I ever did when she was able. BUt I also discovered that preforming at that level is not good. For it said to my wife, see you do not need to stress, it is done, it did not need to be done by you. Which translates in "wife speak" to you are not needed. So while the kitchen is clean it is not "wife" clean and she comes behind me and fusses and polishes, and as often as she has shown me how to fold the towels, they always need refolding and every time I do the same load of laundry, I ask, "Honey, do thses go in the dryer?"

Dave's Bible Blog said...

Good insight. I've had experiences similar to that as well. We are both blessed to have such great women in our lives, aren't we? Thanks for sharing.


Ramone said...

LOL, this is great, Dave. The intuitive or suggestive communication thing is *international* by the way! My wife and I have had the same problem! Of course, westerners tend to be more directly vocal, and just giving an intuitive hint in Japanese is considered virtuous. It's called "isshin-denshin" -- literally, "the same heart". It means you shouldn't have to say something directly, but you have the same heart and mind, so you know what to do without saying it (or with as little words as possible).

In a way it's really beautiful, but the problem is that it can also lead up to a lot of frustration because one can only read someone else's mind so far. It's really difficult for kids who studied abroad and then return to Japanese society where they face a lot of unspoken expectations -- but inside they have changed and operate difficult. A friend years ago suffered because of that, who had spent the high school years in the States.

In marriage counselling I suppose this could be called "unmet expectations". On the other hand, you're right, that we as husbands often *DO* know. Sometimes we are truly clueless, other times we are not. The goal should be to have things laid out so that both parties can be happy.

When my wife gives a suggestive "hint", and I *do* understand, I find a certain thing might rise up in me that wants to finish something I'm doing now. I then have to prioritize and choose. Sometimes I really do just need another minute. At that point I need to tell her that and ask her if I can do it a little later. (It helps to work this kind of situation out beforehand, doesn't it!) The best thing to do, I've found, is when a possibly suggestive hint is given, clarify it. If she says, "The laundry's on the stairs", I reply, "Do you need me to take it upstairs?" It irons things out.

For her, she needs to learn to understand that I may not pick up on everything, and I need to learn to love in her way of thinking as well. The late author Jack Frost wrote in "Experiencing the Father's Embrace" that he wanted to learn to love his wife "in her language". Everyone loves in different ways. So he prayed, "Lord, teach me what 'love' means to my wife, and help me love her in a way that she knows is love." It's a great prayer, one that I don't always live up to. But I want to. And God--being the author of love--knows how to help me love her!

The "isshin-denshin" thing is great and beautiful, but part of the wonder of "becoming one" is that we are still two, yet we are one. I become one with my wife, but she is still so "other"! And I love that. I love the fact that she is not me, and that I will discover something new about her and some new beautiful part of her every day and every moment I'm with her. It's the same with God. When He first revealed Himself to me, I knew He was in me, but He was so *other*, outside of me or not me. In me, but not me. I love that. He & I become one, and we start to think alike, yet as that happens I become more and more aware of His *otherness*, and that is wonderful.

Bless you in Jesus!

Dave Scriven said...

Hey Ramone,

What a great comment. I love your insight about being one but still different and the whole concept of "otherness" in our "oneness".

Thank you, my brother,

maffy said...

I remember when my mom got ill (about seven years ago), and my dad was too ill himself to fully care for her, that I just dropped everything and spend a week with her until she was up and about again.

It was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed taking care of her! I wasn't happy she was sick, of course, but sometimes "doing all that needs to be done" for those we love brings such unbridled joy.

I realize I'm a little off-topic here, but this post reminded me of that week with her.

When end-of-life issues appear one day, I will *never* leave her alone, not just because of what that will do for her, but for me! It was a sweet, enriching experience.

Mary Ann

Dave Scriven said...

That is a cool thought, Mary Ann. Reminds me of a gift Jesus gave me a few years back.

My father and I had an on-going disagreement. It got so bad that we just stopped speaking with each other. I always felt guilty about the wall between us, but I was too proud to apologize. (Pretty immature, huh?)

Finally after about a year, I broke the silence and reached out to my dad. He responded with humility and our relationship was fully restored and we enjoyed wonderful and intimate times. Our friendship became stronger than ever.

About a year or so after we reconciled, Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was bad and he didn't last another year. I was with him when he took his last breath.

Jesus gave me the gift of a relationship with my father before he got sick. I'm know I would have apologized sooner or later, but now I know it was purely because I loved him, not because he got sick and I just wanted to fix my conscience. I get to have no regrets.

I truly believe the timing of our reconciliation was a gift from God.

Thanks for the reminder.