Seinfeld, anybody? Sponge worthy? Don’t worry, we’re talking a different kind of sponges here today.
I replaced the sponge in our kitchen sink recently. There might not be anything better than throwing out that crusty, brown, dried up sponge that smells like death, and putting out in its place a brand-new, clean, smells like sunshine and daisies one. (Unless it’s a magic eraser. Magic eraser sponge trumps normal sponge every day of the week. Is anybody else as obsessed with these as I am? Seriously, they’re not lying. Magic!!)
image credit :: slinky2000, creative commons
And at the risk of a cheesy, youth director analogy, here’s what I realized.
When you pull a new sponge out of the package, it’s a little damp. And when you run it under the water, it soaks it right up. Ready to do its job.
But an older, dried up, hardened sponge?
Those take time. The water rolls right off the top for awhile until the sponge realizes it’s supposed to absorb it again.
Or if you don’t like the sponge example, let’s work with my hair. I can stand in the shower for a good ten minutes before my hair gets wet all the way through. Sometimes I can literally wash, condition, and rinse my hair, just to get out and realize it’s not even completely all wet!
And to be honest, lately, I’m living my life with short bursts under the water, short encounters with the Lord, born more out of obligation than desire, and I’m left wondering why nothing is sinking in.
Life has pre-dampened many of us, and different seasons leave us ready to receive and soak up and absorb His presence, His spirit, His voice.
But then life picks up. The hits come. And even the actions we’re created for leave us a little hard around the edges, a little stained and bruised, and sometimes a little smelling like death. We deal in death and sometimes it marks us.
Yes, physical, actual death. Of our friends. Parents. Babies that have barely started living.
Death of dreams.
Death of the things that defined us.
Death of relationships and the hope we attached to them.
Losing our health.
Losing our minds.
Grieving the same things over and over again.
The fact that we’re back here in this place, that we’re no farther along.
And we forget that our whole purpose is to absorb the things of God into our pores.
So we dash under the water, desperate to get rid of the smell of death. But in our impatience, and to be honest, in our fear that the Lord will disappoint us, we barely let it touch us before we declare it insufficient and move on. And then we turn back to the Lord, why didn’t you? but I thought… you’re supposed to… you should have!
The more dried up we are, the more ache seems to be involved with letting the Lord refill us. It’s uncomfortable at first. It makes our skin feel itchy. It’s hard to sit still and it’s like we’re just waiting for it to not work so we can be proved right.
But gradually, it starts to sink in. We start to remember this is good. We like this. We need this. How have I gone so long without this? That’s better.
And the smell of death is washed away one more time.
please tell me I’m not alone. is anyone else settling for short bursts and wondering why God isn’t doing his job?