"Lord, my house is a mess! Every time I make great progress in one area, I turn around and someone has undone all the hard work I just did! There are piles all over the floor that weren't there yesterday... the backyard is a disaster... the floor needs sweeping... everything feels sticky... and it's Sunday! This is supposed to be a day of rest, and I'm feeling like Sisyphus!* "
Thus went the extent of my prayer as I took a long walk around my neighborhood.
I came home, discouraged, only to find that the piles hadn't magically disappeared, and I collapsed into a full-blown pity party, complete with tears and the complaint that "no one cares" and "no one helps me clean" around here.
To top it all off, Joseph had a messy diaper (that no one else noticed) and the dog would NOT.STOP.BARKING. outside. As I was changing Joseph's diaper, my husband went outside to see what had the dog so upset. When he came back in he said, "It looks like she's cornered a groundhog near the kids' swingset, and it's acting very strangely."
I called the police (not being able to find animal control's phone number) and they said that they'd send out a dispatcher right away.
Oh crud. THE POLICE were coming to MY HOUSE in less than TEN MINUTES!
My four oldest kids were gone, but the rest of the family went into overdrive, scrubbing every inch of the house they could. Marie (6) grabbed a broom and swept away all the dirt that had accumulated by the back door. Thomas (8) put away everything he could get his hands on, and Grace (4) was screeching through the house like a madwoman, flinging shoes and socks in their appropriate places. I scrubbed down every inch of the kitchen, and my husband went outside and cleaned up the entire backyard.
The police were here in minutes, and regretfully had to dispatch the unfortunate groundhog who was very, VERY obviously "not right."
As I watched the police cars drive away, I was almost sure I could hear Jesus chuckling, saying, "You wanted a clean house, and I got your family to clean the whole thing in less than 10 minutes."
So watch out what you pray for. He might just send you a distempered groundhog.
* [note: in Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned for eternity to roll a rock up a mountain. Every time he almost reached the summit, the rock would roll back down and he'd have to go get it again. Sounds like housework, huh?]"