Monday, February 11, 2008

Sponge Coffee and Camp Preachers

(This post was a lot more coherent in my head before I started…so you have been fair-warned of any boredness or confusion that may occur. :) )
Thursday afternoon I decided to make some coffee. (Please see parenthesis at end of entry for a quite serious confessional of sorts.) We hadn’t cleaned out the filter from the last time we used it, so I went to dump it out and ended up spilling its contents all over the handle sponge that was in the sink. (…which, I must add, was surrounded by dirty dishes even though the dish washer, sitting just 2 feet to the right, was completely empty and more than ready to accept a new day’s load. DON’T get me started.)
I decided to go ahead and finish getting the coffee ready (priorities people) and then I would clean up the sponge mess. I have to tell you that this isn’t just a regular square sponge with a scrubby side and a squishy side. (Sorry for the wildly technical terms.) This is one of those that the sponge material is really thin and attached to a handle that you can put soap in that comes out the bottom into the sponge. Plenty of little tiny spots for little tiny ground up coffee beans to get stuck. Dern.

I don’t know if it was the holy ghost moment I was about to have praising the Lord for CARAMEL TRUFFLE COFFEE, that I was thinking about a Beth Moore video I had watched recently, or the fact that I almost had to ask for forgiveness for the dirty word that was nearing my brain due to the misfortune of my kitchen appliance...but suddenly I had an uber-spiritual thought about our coffee-spotted dish scrubber.

“I should be more like this sponge.” (Give me a minute, I’ll get there.)
At that moment, there was no way I was getting those coffee grounds out of their new green squishy home. No matter what I did, they weren’t budging…they sort of moved around inside the sponge as I ran water over it, and most just got lodged farther inside. Then came the slightly creepy, but real to me, thought I had about wanting to change my physical make-up to that of the Sponge-Bob breed.
What if the Jesus in me was like the coffee grounds in this sponge. (And no I’m not saying that the Savior of the world came from a bean grown in Guatemala--although it does have a heavenly scent…ha, ha.—sorry.)
What if I allowed Him to be so stuck on and in me that no matter what came my way, no matter what spell the enemy tried to brain-wash over me, no matter what others thought of me, no matter how I felt, no matter what my worries, doubts, or fears were…my reaction, my answer, my hope, my home was simply JESUS. What if I actually let the Savior of the world inhabit my being the way that was intended?

Last summer at camp, one of our Bible study days was spent leading the campers through an extremely scaled-down model of the temple in the OT. We talked about the way they used to sacrifice animals, bring their offerings to the Lord, how one priest would enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, and how the people would bring their prayer request to the priest that they might be brought before the Lord. (I must say this all came about because we have discovered that the current generation growing up in the world has never been more spiritually hungry, but unfortunately they (self included) are equally biblically illiterate. We had one student summer before last ask us how they got the ark from Noah to fit in the Holy of Holies…he was referring to the ark of the covenant…yeah, wow.)
One night at evening worship, our speaker brought up something related to the temple Bible study that I will never forget. He asked the students to think about those that lived in the days where God’s presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies and the questions they will one day have for those of us privileged enough to have His very presence dwell in our hearts. “What was that like to have the creator of the universe live inside of you?”

Can you imagine the wonder with which they will ask that question? Most of them never having been able to get past the first few temple levels just to have the chance to think about speaking to God…and now we don’t have to move an inch. Don’t have to roll out of bed. Don’t have to shut off the car. Don’t have to wait until the trash is out. Don’t have to finish washing the dishes. And we certainly don’t have to keep quiet until Sunday. Oh, how I take the presence of the Lord for granted! He chose to live in ME!

(By the way, I have no idea how to tie this back into the coffee sponge from which I started so I’ll just not try.) I have recently been reminded of the deep poverty of my spirit and its desperate need to be daily restored by the only someone fully able to perform such a task. As a growing Christian I think it’s one of those things you subconsciously know--“I need help”. But when you actually start investigating through a scriptural lens the degree to which you need it, there are sure to be some sore toes, and consequently, sore knees. What I am finding is that I don’t know the half of what my God is capable of…and mostly because I don’t give Him the chance to show me.

I am all the time trying to do what Jesus would do because it’s what Jesus would do, inevitably missing the point of the heart of love behind it. A few weeks ago the pastor of a church I attend frequently was doing a sermon on the church as a whole and characteristics of biblical ministry. One of his points was this, “When Jesus is reduced to just an example, that is a false gospel…because He is so much more than that.” For example, when we feed the hungry (or insert any other outreach ministry opportunity) just because once fed, they will listen to the gospel, we betray the teaching of Christ and His character. Yes, by all means we want to share the gospel whenever given the opportunity, but not at the expense of portraying Christ heart in the pure and genuine form that we are privileged to experience daily at the throne of grace.

Annnnnnnnnd I’m out of things to say. :)
(PS. I think I have a major addiction…I LOVE COFFEE. This is a serious situation. Let’s just say, if coffee was alcohol, I can’t remember the last time I was sober. Yeah. It’s THAT bad. Prayers appreciated.)


Amy Beth @ Ministry So Fabulous! said...

I love this. Seriously. It is great!

Forever_Grateful said...

Wow! I love your post, just this morning, I ask God to give me a ear to hear and eye to see what his purpose is for me, THIS DAY! I love that we can know God and speak to God at any time, I need Him!

Mommy Dot Com said...

Did you happen to read the post I wrote on being "customer of the week" at Starbucks! A week, going on two weeks now actually, of my favorite drink for free everyday! I've got so much Starbucks inme I could spit a whole cup of coffee at this point. Thanks for stopping by. I haven't been by your blog in awhile and your's is always fun to read. You are a very pretty person inside and out.
It seems you have a heart for ministry. I am curious to know what you feel God is calling you to at this point in your life. Maybe I would find this out if I read some more of your posts but I thought I would throw out the question b/c you seem to have a strong call on your life.

Mel said...

Abby, Abby. How you have been holding out on me! I love your words, your conviction, and your passion. It is so wonderful to finally get to the point where God can speak to us using anything from a dirty sponge to a thrown tantrum from Hutch(details) later. He is constanly speaking isn't He, if we would just listen. Thank you for listening and being so open to share about it! We can all stand to learn from the dirty sponge's of this life, ha! Love it!

Kristen said...

Abby - I've been trying so hard to do what your blog just described...and that is to be so soaked in spirit by Christ that it's hard to get Him out of me - I know that I thirst for Him as a sponge thirsts for water, but so often this world prevents it! Thank you so much for sharing, I definitely needed to hear it today!

Miss you and love you!

Alana said...

Great thoughts, Abby. I do want to be that sponge.

About the coffee...I'm actually attempting to go caffeine free right now (due to the headaches). I'm on day 3 and so far so good. Except that I've discovered I really like things with caffeine in them.

Fran said...

Do you know that I still have chills from thinking about what you just wrote about??! GLORIOUS!
He lives within me....and I don't have to wait on one thing. He is right here tucked inside my messed up self and what do I do??

Thats my question. What do I do about the fact that the Holy Spirit is alive within me??!

Whoa! That was wonderful Abby.
Coffee grounds and all....I got every bit of it!


Linda said...

Abby, I just stumbled onto your blog, and can I say, as a 45 year-old mom of someone who looks to be about your age, I am so "proud" of the young woman you are. I hope that doesn't sound too weird. I just love your verve and enthusiasm and transparency, all owing to Christ's influence, I believe. Blessings on you, Girl.

Bev Brandon said...

So what's it like to have the Creator inside you?? I was reading Mere Christianity today and he was talking about this in chapter about morality that He's in us and lives through our fingers, our mouths, ... and are we living for this world or are we living for forever? Your sponge bob post is pensive and passionate. Yes, Irving is close, with 101 miles to me and I'll be there. I'll come even if you can't cause I went to see POG whom I had never ever heard before and it turned out to be the most touching, shattering to me---"Before The Throne of Grace" and "How We Live" - oh my goodness! So, I'll be there cause A will be God to me...His notes, His melody, His words and throw in the fingers too! Love you Abby, Miss Bev said...

I love the sponge story!How profound! I wanted to thank you for visiting my blog. My ministry is dedicated to what you so passionately speak about. I want to tell others (especially Christains) how to KNOW this wonderful God! Many people accept Him into their lives but don't know how to begin, develop, and maintain a true and personal relationship with God. Please pray for me as I follow God's lead to speak to others. It is overwhelming sometimes but I love it!

A daughter of the King,

Amy said...

"What if the Jesus in me was like the coffee grounds in this sponge."

Love this line...sounds like the crazy stuff brian hollingsworth used to laugh at us you remember his bubble gum is like Jesus story? Jesus can get stuck on you....haha...oh man...way to go with the coffee story freak should think about putting all these stories into book form;)

BethAnne said...

Well, first of all, let me say....I am sorry about the coffee in your sponge. Thankfully, sponges are cheap and easily replaced (unless its like your most favorite sponge in the whole wide world and you have some emotional attachment to it ;-) hahhaa). I find my self strangely addicted to coffee and tea....which is quite unfortunate since I spent so much money having my teeth bleached.

Second of all, or secondly (not sure which is correct - I AM from TN, ya know) I agree with everything you said in your post. I have been thinking alot about the Old Testament believers lately (I have always been fascinated by the Old Testament). We look back at them and think "Man, those people got to experience manna from heaven and God in a cloud over their heads, and passover, etc. etc..., but given the choice, they would trade the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for manna anyday. I think it is so difficult for our human minds to comprehend what the Holy Spirit means to us --- how can we actually have the power of God living IN us? It is more that my little head can handle sometimes, but I sure do believe it!

Kristin said...

Great post Abby. I often think about when I read the New Testament what it would have been like to be face to face with Jesus when he was alive, but never thought about the OT believers looking at me and wondering what it is like to have Jesus in me. That's one to chew on for awhile. Do I really treasure His presence in me like I should? I think this is a big one I take for granted!
Blessings ~ Kristin

Lindsee said...

I LOVE that HE sticks to dirty sponges just like me.

Well said, my dear!

Nikki said...

Thanks for the post, Abby! It made me think alot.
And I spent quite a bit of time at the good ol' starbizzle today. I love when I leave there, I smell like starbucks. Ya know what I mean? Sounds crazy but tis true!
Hope you are having a great day!!

Katie said...

This is so profound, I love it! God's definitly working hard on me to get this one...and I am praying hard that I will. I can't wait to see what you will write next, this is good stuff!

Happy Valentine's Day!

jennyhope said...

happy valentines day sweet Abby!

Patty said...

Abby, Abby, Abby....
You are just too awesome for words!!! I loved this post!! Like you said, we can talk to God any time and anywhere! Praise God!! I have had many a conversation or encounter with God at the kitchen sink or as I was loading the dishwasher. BTW... I have a reason for asking this so don't think I am weird (heehee) what is your fav cereal?
Love You,

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Oh girl, I am right on with you and the coffee addiction. You just don't know.

You are so precious! I love your heart. I love your analogy about the sponge and the coffee grinds. Oh if we could have Jesus in us like that. No matter what He could not get out of us. You know the fact is we really do nothing can separate us from Him when He lives in us. Good thought. You are a blessing.
Much love,