I took a bath the other night. I don’t normally take baths. Real men take showers.
I have extremely dry skin. It’s inherited from the Ashley side of the family. Whenever I do take a bath, I put baby oil in the water. It works well to alleviate the cracked skin and itching. I don’t normally stay in there long. For one reason, the tub is too small, or else I’m too big.
Not long ago I bought Wanda a big car washing sponge for her baths. I love to play with that sponge. It’s fascinating.
I picked it up the other night, dry and misshapen. I held it under the water and squeezed it. Thousands of air bubbles raced for the surface of the water. I squeezed it again and hundreds of bubbles emerged. Every time I squeezed it, the number of bubbles decreased and the amount of water in the sponge increased.
After many squeezings, no bubbles appeared. The sponge was soaked with water. It could not hold another drop.
I then picked the sponge up out of the water and squeezed it onto my back. It felt wonderful. So I did it again and again.
Then the Lord spoke to me:
“Kenny, you are like that sponge, dry and misshapen. I am the oil and the water. The oil of the Holy Spirit keeps your soul from becoming irritated and itchy. My oil keeps you smooth and soft. It keeps you from becoming dry and hard.
“I, too, am Living Water. I refresh you, cleanse you, warm you. Just like you and the sponge, I want to fill every fiber of your being. The air inside the sponge keeps the water and oil out. You, too, are filled with things that keep me out.
“Empty things, vain things, fruitless things. That’s why I squeeze you. I’ve been squeezing you for some time now. There have been a lot of things bubbling out of you lately. Business, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, hurt, discouragement, pride, selfishness, control, confusion, doubt, fear, insecurity.
“But take heart, with every squeezing the number of bubbles emerging from you decreases. There is more of me and less of you. But you have asked for all of me and none of you. That’s why I am still squeezing.
“There is coming a day when no matter how hard I squeeze, I will be the only thing that comes out of you. Then I will take you and squeeze you, and I will pour out of you the oil of my Holy Spirit and living water that will heal, restore and quench the thirst of many dry, empty people - my children, whom I dearly love.
“Remember when I squeeze you, I’m just soaking you in me.”
I noticed the more times I filled and emptied the sponge, the more soft and pliable it became, and the quicker it filled with water. I also observed the only time the sponge was in its proper shape was when it was filled with water. The only time you and I look like we were created to look is when we are filled with His spirit.
The purpose of the sponge is to be squeezed, filled and poured out, over and over again. That is our purpose as well. To be squeezed, filled with the Holy Spirit and poured out on dry, parched souls.
Has God been squeezing you lately? Have you become dry and irritated? Nerves on edge? Ungrateful and critical when life goes against your grain?
Take heart. God is trying to squeeze some bubbles out of you to make more room for Him.
Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey in Lake Wylie.