I have this thing about going to bed with a dirty kitchen sink. Something about dirty dishes sitting there all night keeps my mind from relaxing enough to fall asleep. I’m not judging those of you who can turn that off and deal with it in the morning! I wish I could do that.
I returned home from my trip yesterday. As is my usual routine before bed, I began tidying up the kitchen. I reached for the sponge at the sink and cringed when I grabbed it. It was sopping wet, and hadn’t been wrung out from its last use. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I mean, it’s simply unsanitary. I can’t seem to convince the other people who live in this house of the importance of wringing out the sponge. I squeezed out the water and put it to my nose; the stench was overwhelming. A stale, half mildew, half musk smell had settled into the fibers of the sponge, so in the trash it went. It’s possible to get that smell out by putting the sponge in the dishwasher and giving it a good sanitize session, but after being gone for four days, I have no idea how long it had been stewing in its own dirty juices. It wasn’t worth the effort. Besides, I love a fresh clean sponge… it’s one of those adult things that makes me happy.
As I began cleaning up the kitchen, I decided to wash the counters because they, too, smelled like the dirty old sponge. Then I moved onto the stove top, and the kitchen table. Basically anything that could have been wiped down by that nasty sponge got cleaned. 30 minutes later, I was finally ready for bed, but now my mind was wandering – what other little germ cities had popped up while I was away?
I decided to spend a little time in the Word of God to clear my mind and help me get to sleep. I was exhausted from driving all day and my body needed to recuperate with a good night of sleep. As I was praying and reading, I felt the tension in my shoulders leaving, the anxious feeling being replaced by peace, and my mind went back to that sponge. I pictured the heavy, dripping, nasty sponge. I pictured the dirty water being squeezed out of it. Yet still, the stench remained in its fibers because it had marinated in that filth for too long. Then I thought, that’s me! I’m the sponge!
I normally start my day with prayer and quiet time, but it isn’t often that I finish my day that way. I begin each morning fresh and clean, like a new sponge, ready to soak up the day. As the sun moves across the sky, I encounter situations, people, problems, and my fresh clean sponge soaks those up. It prevents my day from causing an emotional mess for me, and prevents my day from spilling out onto anyone else. By evening, my sponge is filled with negativity, angry thoughts, and nasty people or situations of life. Just like the sponge in the kitchen sink, it needs to be wrung out or it will marinate in that filth and begin to smell. My normal routine of saying a quick good night prayer before bed wasn’t wringing out the sponge of my day. It’s no wonder I have trouble sleeping at times. It’s no wonder I often wake up in a foul mood and have to force myself to seek God during quiet time. It’s no wonder I walk around with a heavy heart and troubled mind most days. The sponge of my soul is carrying around the extra weight of yesterday’s filth. It can’t soak up any more today, because it is still full… and it smells.
So how do we clean our soul sponge? We go to God. Through prayer, reading the Word of God, and worship and praise, we can wring out our sponge right at the feet of Jesus. He is faithful to wash us clean. I have committed myself to seeking Him before going to bed at night as well as the start of my day. I’m willing to bet I will see a difference in how I sleep and also how effective my morning prayers are when I’m waking up with a freshly sanitized soul sponge.
Psalm 34: 4-5
I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.
Tell me, when was the last time you went to God to wring out your sponge? I encourage you to do so daily. He is faithful to take our discarded filth and shame, replacing it with the sweet aroma of His presence and faces that radiate the Joy of the Lord.