Laundromats and Abraham’s Faith

I moved recently into a one bedroom apartment without a washer and dryer.  I didn’t dislike the apartment and I knew that God wanted me there, but I was a little grouchy about the laundry situation. I decided to listen to God, move in, and endure the laundry problem.

I don’t know if the patriarch Abraham every had problems with laundry.  Probably he did.  Where do you do laundry if you’re a nomad, wandering through places you’ve never been to? Or maybe you just don’t do laundry, which would be even more of a stretch of faith.

But the part about Abraham’s life that puzzled me most was Genesis 22, where God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son.  If ever there’s a chapter of the Bible that could be longer, it’s this one.

Verse 3 starts with, “So Abraham….”  Now, in today’s world, I would expect that verse and the rest of chapter 22 to go something like this:

“So Abraham sat on the front porch all night long in agony, drinking (coffee?).  He begged God to change his mind and became extremely high maintenance.  He bargained with God and told God that this would ruin his relationship with his wife….”

And on and on for another 100 verses.

Instead the verse says,

“So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey,

and took two of his young men with him,

and his son Isaac.

And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose

and went to the place of which God had told him.”

It’s unbelievably brief. It gives no details about Abraham tossing and turning in bed all night long trying to evade God’s instructions.  Where’s the rest of the chapter?

As I thought about Abraham, I listened to God and moved to the new apartment.  For the first time I began to wonder.   Perhaps Abraham really DIDN’T toss or turn or drink excessive coffee.  Perhaps he knew God.  So well.  That he knew it would be okay.

This thought occurred to me before I was forced to do my laundry at midnight on one of my nights off.  I piled my clothes in my rusting Ford Focus with 216,000 miles and headed off into the night.  I went to Nappanee, where there is a beautiful Nappanee-style laundromat that is not open at midnight. So I drove to Goshen where there is a practical Goshen-style laundromat that is open at midnight.

I turned a $20 bill into 80 quarters.  I measured out detergent and realized that I had forgotten how nice soap smells.  I loaded the triple loader washers and locked the handles for the 34 minute cycle. I watched the suds roll and the clothes spin. I connected my phone to the free Wi-Fi.

I bet it’s fun owning a laundromat, I thought to myself.  (I think God may have laughed at me at that ironic moment.)

All I can say is I began to look forward to doing my laundry, which I can assure you I never recall happening before. It even occurred to me that someday I might not work night shift anymore, and then I probably couldn’t go to the laundromat in the cool and dark. Yes, it’s possible that the other midnight patrons are using meth, but I feel safe in the arms of the security cameras, and even safer in the arms of God.  I realize that when God asks us to do things, we don’t have to grit our teeth and plan on being miserable. Not even about the things we think will be the worst.

I believe that Abraham had learned to trust God early on when he learned that God cared about even small details like laundry.  He had learned to trust God without having a GPS.  He actually got to the point where he believed that he and Sarah would have a son.  The idea of childbirth for them was illogical, radical, foolish, and preposterous, EXCEPT that God had said it.  And Abraham, according to Romans 4, “Did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body. No distrust made him waver…in hope he believed against hope.”

God asked Abraham to do crazy things and he did without question, without lying awake all night.  It blows my mind.  Except that I’m beginning to see, perched on a practical wooden laundromat stool, that God is not someone to be doubted.

P.S. :  I wanted to mention several other things shocking things God has done but I ran out of space! Maybe next time.  I never wanted to live a boring life and praise the Lord, I’m not!

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