a dirty bathroom and entering God’s rest

Posted: January 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” ~Philippians 4:8

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”   ~Newton’s First Law of Motion

I cleaned the bathroom yesterday morning before my shower.  It wasn’t a pre-planned thing; the usual thing just happened.  I walked in with my glasses on and my attention tuned in more than usual, took in the grossness at a single glance, and it reordered my morning.

Unlike other areas of our house, our bathroom doesn’t tend to get cluttered.  While G is a picker-upper always trying to get things immediately “put back” to where they belong, I am a piler-upper.  Flat surfaces are always in danger in my home of becoming just another place to stack stuff.  G is amazingly patient with my piling-up tendencies, and his picking-up tendencies are rubbing off on me over time, so we’re slowly progressing on this front.  But the bathroom is not a piling-up area for me, even.  Pretty much everything in there has a place, and not much ever varies on that front.

So it’s easy for me to get complacent about the bathroom and not notice it needs cleaned.  This is only compounded by the fact that my morning time in there is always without my glasses on (read:  blind as a bat) and my evening time in there is just quick in-and-out, usually (honestly) staring at my iPhone screen the whole time I am in there.  So I just don’t notice the grime.  If company is coming, I try to remember to go in and really look, but without company, it can get pretty grim.  So by the time I notice, it just about sends me into meltdown, and all else must halt until I have addressed it.  So that was my yesterday morning – de-grossing the bathroom.

I’ve been noticing lately how much regular life is like that.  We don’t default to the spiritual pretty much ever.  Our automatic settings for navigating our days don’t generally include seeking God, serving others, or growing spiritually or otherwise.  We don’t naturally choose good habits for our spiritual or physical health.

Left to our own devices, we choose here and now.  We choose convenience and instant gratification.  We choose comfort in the moment over what will benefit us and others in the long term.  We choose selfishness and self-centeredness.  That might look like laziness or it might look like busyness.  It might appear as boredom or as filling every minute of every day.  It might read as being a “nice guy” or being the perpetual butthead.  It can look all sorts of ways, but at its heart, our default settings are generally not aimed at what will serve God and others and reward us on a grander scale.

When we don’t pursue God, we tend to lose interest in Him.  When we don’t pray, we forget how to connect with Him in that way.  When we don’t read scripture, we lose our connection with it and it can become just another boring assignment we don’t want to do.  When we don’t fast and meditate, we lean toward staying in/returning to the shallow end of the faith pool.  When we don’t engage with others in talking about and walking out our faith, we are easily fooled into isolating ourselves in ways that lead to faulty thought processes, wrong understanding, and bad behavior.  When we don’t actively pursue learning and going deeper in our faith, we are easily deceived and drawn aside into worthless controversies, silly arguments, and downright lies.

Over in Hebrews Chapter 3, which I am not going to post here (click on it and it will open in a separate window to read), this is addressed pretty pointedly.  I don’t read it as a warning to people who don’t know God – it’s not an “unbeliever” message.  It is instruction to us who follow Christ.  It speaks about what causes us to be “unable to enter into His rest.”  Now maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t read that as a, “Buck up or you’re going to hell” deal.  It looks to me like “entering His rest” is for the here and now.

I think “entering His rest” is about being able to experience THIS life, today, here and now, in a way that is joyful and fulfilling.  I know a lot of people who aren’t experiencing that right now – who are sad, resentful, angry, frustrated, afraid, and just generally struggling with life.  Who can’t find purpose or meaning.  Who feel incurably, unfixably broken.  These are not people who “need Jesus” in the sense of having never met Him – as far as I can tell, these people followers of Christ, just as I am.

I’ve been trying to find a way to speak across the great divide that lies between myself and those who struggle like this.  Trying to find a way to say that I hear, I know, I remember what it’s like to be in that awful place of misery, but there is a way out.

I’m not good at it.

It’s a hard message, because as far as I can tell, it is primarily a series of choices, and that sounds like a “work harder” message, but it really isn’t.

Choosing God, choosing faith, choosing faithful behaviors – getting into that close space with God where things are beautiful no matter what else is happening…it’s not harder.  It’s just different.  It’s tuning into His frequency instead of assuming every screaming demand within myself is real and true and must be satisfied.

It can feel like hard work at the outset, because you have to step over what you think you want, what makes sense to you, and do things that can seem downright silly and pointless.  How is praying going to fix problem x, y, and z in my life?  How is reading scripture going to change the jerks around me?  How is working on myself going to alter the crappy things that are happening in my world?  You have to give up on fixing things your own way, and just go running for Him.  It can feel strange and alien.  It can feel like you’re being stupid or weird or even crazy.

But the awesome thing is that making even a little bit of the change very quickly brings unexpected rewards, and the more we chase Him, go to Him, depend on Him, pursue Him, look to Him, believe Him, and obey Him…the easier it gets.  We still have to do it on purpose, or we’ll just slide back into the abyss.  But it gets easier.  It becomes more fun.  The surprises contained within the process are often astonishing.  As we obey what He shows us to do, we gain freedom incrementally – obedience and freedom cannot be separated, no matter how much we hate the “o” word.

I wish I knew better how to communicate this in practical steps, for the sake of every struggler I love.  There is a way across the divide.  You can experience peace and joy and so much more – it’s not only available to some of us.

Seeking ways to share it better, and I only know one source who can give that to me.  Happily, He loves to give gifts like this.  I’m gonna keep on asking.

 

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