Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lessons from a Bathroom Stall

Do you ever feel like a waste receptacle? Like a dumping ground for everyone else's problems? Are there times you wanted to look that other person in the eye and say, "Do you realize I have my own problems to deal with here?" then proceed to spew forth your own life issues?

Our family was on a week's vacation at camp, using a common bathhouse, when the following insights came to mind:
1) I consistently used the stall with the open door. The door that was ajar was welcoming and available. It seemed to say, "Come on in!"
2) I only used clean vessels. I didn't want to expose myself to unpleasantness or possible illness.
3) I only used available vessels. If a stall was in use or the door was locked, I simply moved on until I found a clean, available one.
4) The vessel did not keep the refuse, but got rid of it and flushed it away.

How does this apply to ministering to others? "Now all these things [faith, love, the new nature] are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

When we are ambassadors of Christ, we are often receptacles for the refuse of others. They bring their burdens, their cares, their sin, their worries and pour them into our lives. We could very easily get weighed down and become useless. But we are not the solution to their problems, we cannot fix anything. We can, however, follow the bathhouse principles in this ministry of reconciliation:
1) Keep the door of your life open to others. When you are welcoming and inviting, others will come to you with their difficulties (2 Corinthians 6:1-10).
2) Be a clean vessel. Keep yourself free from sin in deed and in conscience. Do not hold onto the sin of others and allow bitterness to creep in (Hebrews 9:13-14, Hebrews 12:15).
3) Be available to others. This is similar to the first, but realize this--that tightly entwining yourself with friends makes you unavailable to others. God desires us to live a balanced life (examine the life of Christ).
4) Your job is not to keep the refuse, but be a vessel that channels it to where it ultimately belongs (Jude 20-25).

Who would have thought--lessons from a bathroom stall?