Giving my best

blogIMG_1100This may sound odd in this day and age, but I’m one of those who actually likes ironing. It’s one of those household chores my mother taught me as a young girl that I truly enjoy.

Sounds crazy, I know. Who irons now days? Just grab everything out of the dryer before wrinkles set in and off you go. Wash and wear.

But for me, there’s something calming about setting up the ironing board, – given to us as a wedding gift 40 years ago – heating up the steam iron, and pressing away.

My mother was a homemaker; that was her occupation and she did it well. She took pride in her clean and orderly home inside and out, sparkling white clothes, and freshly pressed sheets, pillowcases, and linen tea towels.

Back in the day before permanent press when clothes were washed and often dried outside on a clothesline (which is another chore I still enjoy), doing laundry took the better part of a day.

If some articles of clothing became excessively wrinkled in the washing machine, I can remember my mom sprinkling them with water, rolling them up, and storing them in a special zippered plastic bag (way before ziplock bags became a thing)  in the refrigerator until she had the time to iron them later.

Mom taught me how to properly press clothes and household linens starting with my dad’s white cotton handkerchiefs.  They were easy to iron because they were square and flat. Next came ironing pillowcases and sheets. Back then, these items were 100% cotton and most folks ironed them.

When I mastered that, Mom let me try my hand at ironing our everyday clothes and from there I progressed to pressing Dad’s white dress shirts, which he wore to work every day.

For some reason, ironing clothes just didn’t seem like a chore to me, instead it was fun. Unfortunately, I don’t consider cooking the same way so Mom’s excellent cooking and baking skills did not rub off on me.

Papa can attest to this although he tries not to hurt my feelings about cooking not being my forte. Most husbands ask their wives why they can’t cook like the husband’s mother; mine asks why I don’t cook like my own mom did. But that’s a whole other blog post.

However, I thought about all of this the other day as I was ironing because I do still enjoy this task. There’s something so satisfying for me to press out each wrinkle and fold of the item being ironed making it look almost new and untouched.

A stack of items that needed pressed to make them look their best accumulated in my laundry room.  An autumn designed table runner for my dining room table, two small table covers that I had washed and hung out to dry on the outside clothesline, and a stack of linen hand towels awaited the touch of a hot steam iron.

The hand towels came from church. We have a time-honored tradition in the way we celebrate communion. Taking our reasons for doing so from the narrative in the Bible when Jesus gathered his 12 disciples together for the Last Supper, we not only partake of the bread and cup but also have a meal together and in humility and servanthood, wash one another’s feet.

We use large terrycloth towels as aprons to dry one another’s feet and small linen hand towels to dry our own hands upon washing them at the end of the foot washing ceremony.

I volunteered to wash all of the wet towels afterwards. The towel/aprons were unwrinkled after washing and drying, so I simply folded them up and stacked them ready to return to church.

But the linen towels were just a little rumpled with some of the edges turned up.  I could have easily attempted to smooth out the slight wrinkles with my hands and just folded them also, but something made me stop and decide to iron them instead.

The title to an old hymn – Give of Your Best to the Master – popped into my thoughts and the words and melody started playing in my mind.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

What is my best to give to my God? It sounds crazy, but ironing those linen towels was my best. Folding them just wasn’t good enough even though they would be placed in a box with all of the other clean towels in the church storage closet and no one (unless he/she reads this blog) would know that I had ironed the ones I took home to launder. 

No, I didn’t feel the need to press them perfectly to receive recognition for doing so. I wanted to iron those pieces of cloth not for praise or glory for myself but because they represented doing God’s work and work for Him should be done to the best of my ability.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  ~ Colossians 3:23 (New Living Translation)

You see, my mother also taught me to do my best at whatever I worked at. And both my parents taught me to always present my best to our God. Not because He demands it, but because He deserves it.

He deserves my absolute best. He deserves my respect and reverence. He deserves my praise and giving Him honor and glory. 

Because giving my best truly is so little in comparison to what He’s done for me and you.

Using a hot iron to press out each wrinkle and make sharp creases in each fold, and stacking those small linen hand towels in an orderly fashion proved to be a kind of worship service that morning.

And a reminder to always do my best for my Savior. I knew I was on the right track because the next Sunday morning during worship, we sang an old hymn after our pastor’s message.

What was it? Give of Your Best to the Master.

 “Do your best and let God do the rest.” ~ Unknown

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