On my kitchen counter sits an old scrap bowl. It’s not much to look at — there are exactly 3 chips around the rim and you’ll even find a few hairline cracks in the glaze if you study it long enough. I have always loved that bowl – it’s a testimony to the fact that many small hands have had their turns stirring cookie dough or making banana pudding in it.

When a meal is finished, I place the scraps in it so our eldest daughter can feed its contents to our two Basset Hounds. Sometimes, when I am feeling ambitious, I might even clean out the refrigerator and anything not petrified is tossed into the old bowl as a special treat to add to the regular dry food our dogs receive.

My daughter knows that each morning she is supposed to empty the contents of the bowl into the dog’s dish outside. She has dutifully fed those dogs for the last 5 years, yet she is quick to “forget” the scrap bowl. It is inconvenient for her. She has to carry it to the back yard. She has to be careful not to drop it. She has to carry a spoon to scrape the contents out. Simply put, it is too much work. So it sits, full of scraps.

A day goes by. Two. On the third day, I call her to the kitchen and tell her that she must take the scraps out or else. Her countenance falls as she realizes just how long it has been…the scrap bowl is now full of food and she knows that it is going to smell bad and suddenly, she balks at the thought of dealing with it. I angrily tell her to “just do it” and give her a typical mom speech about responsibility and accountability and go on about how “if she’d have just done it when she was supposed to…” it would have never gotten this bad.

Then it happens. A light switches on somewhere in the dim regions of my brain and I realize that the bowl is like my heart and the scraps in it are the “little” sins I throw in there and hide under the paper towel so no one else can see them. Sins of ommission — like the times I was supposed to pray and didn’t, or not being diligent to read my Bible daily, even disobedience to God’s Word. If I go long enough, my heart is full and I have a very unpleasant odor, much like that scrap bowl. And like my daughter, I am ever so happy to ignore it (it will go away, won’t it?) until I am rendered useless. My bowl is full. I have no room for patience with my children, courtesy to my husband, or anything else that might further the cause of Christ.

I have become completely unprofitable and it’s only when I empty myself before the Lord that He is able to use me again. He gently picks me up, cleanses me from the inside out, and places me back on solid ground. When my daughter comes back in, I am no longer angry. I take the scrap bowl from her and wash it out myself, thankful for a Savior who is willing to love me in spite of my chips and cracks.

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” -2 Timothy 2:21

(Originally published Feb 2008 as a piece that was submitted to Scribbit’s February Write-Away Contest – thanks for putting up with my leftovers while I’m adjusting to homeschooling)

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