I am a sponge.
If you follow Christ, you are too.
I’m not the soap. I’m not the water. I am only an agent. I am the agent, the vessel, between God and the world. I’m just a sponge. The Holy Spirit that lives within my pores intercedes with others for God. I’m only there to be the vessel through which the Holy Spirit works.
But, there is a daily maintenance that I must do in order to stay fresh and able to do my job well. Just like a sponge has to be cleaned, so do we.
If you’ve ever used a sponge to clean dishes, you know that if you don’t wash the filth out from the previous time, there is no point in using it next time. Might as well just toss it and start over.
Thank God that He doesn’t do that with us! He can cleanse us from any sin, defiance, rebellion.
Sin comes into our lives due to pride. And pride is so commonplace in our sinful, fallen natures that if we don’t watch our sponge-selves, we can become full of it. Even though we were washed and cleansed and made holy (set apart for sacred purposes), we have a bent toward doing wrong.
At the moment of salvation, we received a new Nature, however. It’s the nature of God Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s Spirit, dwelling within us. Because we have the new Nature, it grieves us to do wrong.
However, due to our prideful sinful bent, sometimes we refuse to confess (cleanse ourselves) and we can continue in the direction of defiance and absolute stubbornness (telling ourselves that we are right and justified in our actions and responses toward others).
Sometimes that goes on for minutes. Sometimes that goes on for years. But like that sponge, we become dry–beyond just being a tad parched or thirsty for His Water to fill us. We become hard [hearted] and stiff, inflexible to the world around us. The dirt that has gotten into our pores stays there, and without the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, by being brought into the presence of God, we don’t get clean. And just being out in the world, we get full of dirt. Whether or not we are making ourselves try to be ‘part of the world’ again, or if we are still trying to ‘go clean the world’, it doesn’t matter. We get continually filled by the the dirt and filth of sin. Our pores become full of dirt.
We can try to wash the sin away from the world, but all we are doing is spreading our toxic junk everywhere. Or if we are completely dried out, we just end up scratching at the dirt, but not bringing any cleansing power with us.
What we need is a good soaking and a good washing. What we need is some mighty detergent that will kill every bit of sin that we have picked up along the way and are inadvertently spreading to those around us.
If you held a clean sponge up to a lamp, you could see the light through it. But if you take that sponge and leave it outside, never give it a good washing, eventually the dirt will build up in it (if you live in the Texas panhandle anyway!) so much that you can’t see any light through it.
It’s the same with me. Same with you. The longer I decide to hold onto sin and not let Him wash me of it, the drier and harder my filthy heart gets. And a dirty sponge that gets dried out is just plain gross.
The thirst has been muted, turning instead into a calloused heart that only God can transform back into the once malleable heart that He put in me at the moment of salvation.
If it was a sponge in my house, I would toss it and not think twice.
But thank God that He doesn’t just toss us in the trash and find someone new to do His work! No, He knows our frailties and weaknesses. He can empathize with us. And He knows just what mix of things to bring into our lives to turn us back to Him. Good things. And He even allows bad things to happen so that we can turn our hearts back to Him and be washed again..
But He starts with just pouring into us.
Ever tried to put soap in a dried out sponge? It doesn’t work well. I picture it just oozing right off the surface, if it is hard enough.
So, He starts by pouring His Water into us, softening our hearts. He tells us that He loves us, and He wants us to come back into His arms and be one with Him again. He hates for us to have a divided heart. He is a jealous God because He doesn’t want us to get hurt or to hurt others. When we rebel, we are choosing evil over Him. Every time. And He is our source of protection, love, grace, mercy, and beauty! He is our All in All, and if we try to go in our own direction, we will always get hurt, or hurt someone else. And all the while, His light is not shining out to those who need it the most.
God is love. He doesn’t want us to drift from Him, out of His protection. When we start going against Him, He will allow things to happen that bring us running back to Him.
Once He gets our hearts malleable again for Him, and yearning for Him again, He can begin to pour His cleansing soap into us, squishing us in His gentle fingers to get rid of the sin within us. Sometimes, though, we still try to resist the cleansing. And it’s in those times that we feel His gentle squeezing a little harder. He may have to squeeze us many times, but eventually that dirt will come out, through His Power and His Spirit.
In the end, His way is always right. The quicker we submit to His leading, the less damage we will do to others by spreading our filth when we are trying to ‘go cleanse the world’ of it’s dirt.
After all, I am only the agent, I am not The Living Water, nor am I the soap. I am there to help bring the water and soap to the world.
And, if we keep ourselves full and overflowing with both the water and the soap, the dirt can not come in and take up residence within us.
And the light? It will start shining through us again.