Washboard Living

Lay Servant Ministries


Although I am getting older, I do not have recollections of my mother washing our clothes on a washboard. My childhood was more of the wringer washer era. Which includes a memory of my older brother getting his hand caught in the wringer, resulting in a broken thumb and skin graft. We can learn a lot from our older siblings, both what to do and what to avoid, if we just pay attention.

But I digress. My washboard realities relate to gravel country roads that have experienced heavy rains and washing, with infrequent road grader bladings. The resulting series of small ridges in the roads make for a rugged and teeth-jarring ride. The faster you drive, the more intense the vibration and discomfort.

The events that we are experiencing in 2020 have led to a life filled with seemingly unending washboard driving. We are confronted with situations that are unavoidable, many out of our control, from which there is no simple or quick solution. The covid pandemic has changed our "normal" ways of living. Even if we can avoid contact with others and take other precautions; many have experienced loss of jobs and anxieties over our abilities to care for and educate our children. We are aware of social justice issues that need to be addressed, both in the church, nation and world. We seem be more polarized as we fail to seek common ground on many issues. Like the washboards on those gravel roads we have to deal with this new reality as best we can. We cannot turn around and detour around the events that confront us. We cannot speed up and pretend that they do not exist.

As Christians, we turn to scripture for guidance. Or, as we told our youth, we ask the question, "What Would Jesus Do?" I would never pretend to have all the answers, so let's think about some simple faith-inspired approaches.

Acknowledge the situation. One of the most inspiring aspects of Christ's life was that he never wavered from his destiny. Although dissuaded by the disciples, he lived in the constant reality of his mission and fate. He lived every aspect of his life, death, and resurrection as examples to us and fulfillment of God's glory:  "...he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things...and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."  (Matthew 16:21) 
We can overcome present circumstances. As Christ was confronted with each trial in his life, he not only overcame them, but always with the realization that they were part of the journey, with the assurance of a blessed result. And we are strengthened through our adversities. They are essential in our faith walk. Awaiting at the end each of our journeys is the glorious realization of our everlasting life:  "... but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame..." (Romans 5:3-5)

We are called to take action. Our faith also reminds us that as Christ sets the examples, it is our calling to take active roles in contributing to positive outcomes. We cannot sit back and ignore the situations or expect others to remedy them. As Christ was confronted with five thousand hungry followers, he admonished the disciples, "You give them something to eat." (Matthew 14:16)    

We are presented with many events in our lives that help us grow our faith. God is with us for our joys and good times, and he is present during our trials and sorrow. We are reminded to rely on his strength to bolster our own, to learn through his presence and example to grow our faith, in the assurance that he is always with us because of his deep and personal love for us all.

We may not be able to eliminate the washboard in our life road, but, with God's help, we can put it into perspective and deal with it as we grow closer to him. That is my prayer. Have a great August, as we bask in God's grace.

Pat McReynolds
Parsons District Director of Lay Servant Ministries