Potty-trained Christians

"…Don't muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn." (1 Corinthians 9:9)

If you're alive and working in the Kingdom, you have to feed on good things in order to grow. As you grow, you're being changed more and more into the image of Christ. Wonderful! Have a feast!

But if you're putting stuff in, the waste products have to regularly come out or you'll get sick. Taking in the good and progressively getting rid of the bad--that's normal Christian living.

"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much INCREASE is by the strength of the ox." (Proverbs 14:4)

I remember when my granddaughter Joscelin was potty-training. As with most children, she wanted to do things the same way as grown ups, but paying attention to her body's signals was often frustrating.

Little by little, she's grasped the concept of getting to a bathroom in time to take care of her business. Each successful attempt was met with family cheers, and we overlooked the "oops." Joscelin's transition from no responsibility to greater control required a little more time and patience from all of us.

While observing this, the Lord spoke to my heart. "This ought to be good," I mused. "A word from the Lord about potty-training!"

"How well are you potty-trained?" He asked.

I waited, thought…and thought some more. "Lord, you're talking about my mouth, aren't you?"

He didn't reply, but I sensed a heavenly smile around me.  Then I waited for the lesson.

God created us with an elimination system. We actually come into the world "pooping," yet lovingly wrapped in diapers and changed frequently by family members who understand our helplessness.

Interestingly, baby Joss used to act oblivious to the mess in her pants. But as she got older, she seemed bothered by its presence and wanted to be cleaned immediately.

In well-adjusted, natural environments, we are taught it's proper to be washed after a soiling. In Christ, we share in a new nature that not only desires, but commands it. In either case, we learn to take control of the process. We assume the responsibility to clean up our messes. The people in our lives have better things to do with and for us!

"Newbies" in the Kingdom can't control what comes out of their un-renewed minds (and subsequently, their mouths). Nor are they usually bothered by it. We, the family, must just delight in the fact that they're here, while serenely covering them in spiritual diapers and taking turns tackling the crud.

But most of the time, kids catch on quickly to what others around them are modeling. The older siblings aren't in diapers; no one has to lay them down and call for the wipes. They watch as everybody else goes to a specific place to get rid of the "smellies."

Spiritual toddlers, too, should feel consistently uneasy with when and where they "vent," as well as convicted by what's left behind for others to tidy up. If not, the Christian family must move from passive encouragement to tough admonishment.

As in some natural cases, wisdom and compassion needs to be applied to see if the lack of interest or developing skill is due to some previous trauma or disorder.

We come into the Kingdom full of Adamic baggage that always needs to be addressed in our minds and emotions, freeing us to live in the realities of our new life.

The family of God has been given full authority and the continuing ministry of Jesus to set the captives free. But to do so, we must be willing to focus on the little brother or sister who needs help, not the ugliness of their by-products.

The heart is the spiritual 'gut' of a Christian. It fills up with all kinds of things. And what's in the heart will come out:

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34)

"Out of it (the heart) are the ISSUES of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

David cried, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh, God…" (Psalm 51:10)

Oh, I know. Accidents will still happen along the way--like the time I got the stomach flu from Kit-Com-Bu and lost control all over the place. And then there was the time I hurt my back and couldn't bend an inch; and oh, yes...I can't forget the gall bladder surgery that went awry. But my husband George was there in those embarrassing, but necessary seasons to take care of me.

And there will be times in our maturing walk with the Lord when we will lose control again, such as in spiritual sickness, weariness or grief. We must remain silent and understandingly supportive of each another. Just show up with a smile and a roll of paper!

As a young child, I hesitated going to the bathroom for the "big job." I would hold it in as long as I could. Do you know what usually happened? It discharged itself in the most inopportune places. That's what happens when Christians struggle to "hold it in", fearing rejection if others see the stinky stuff that's been rolling around on the inside.

Some abused children's eliminations system are locked by an overwhelming fear of associative trauma. But most children simply go through a season of procrastination and laziness regarding their toilet habits. That was my case.

The pediatrician told mom he had seen the problem in other children slowly develop into chronic, adult constipation—even with impactions. The body finally surrenders to being ignored for a release and settles down. Slowly, they become very toxic, very sick people.

(I can't believe I'm discussing this, can you??)

I wonder, how many kids in God's House stubbornly resist potty training their mouths? I have. What about you?

Is it due to some underlying emotional wound that needs critical attention? Or honestly, are the mishaps due to an unwillingness to stop and take care of the "necessaries"?

Have we also learned that there are specific places and times to "let go" in the Kingdom?

We've traditionally called them "prayer closets", but they're a lot like a bathroom. First, it affords privacy. We don't take our friends and hold court on the pot. But God is always there. And if it's an emergency, I'll take someone with me, but not just anybody. They have to be discreet and mature. I don't want my sewage to be the talk of the church next Sunday!

We wipe carefully and flush it all away.  Lastly, we wash our hands before emerging into public as a courtesy to others so they won't come in contact with our refuse or become offended by any lingering odor.

I wonder, are we just as conscientious when eliminating contaminates of a different kind?

We all know so many Scriptures on taming the tongue and stewardship of our words: For this occasion, however, this passage (in the Weymouth translation) is appropriate:

"But now put off these things: anger and passionate outbreaks, ill-will, evil-speaking, foul-mouthed abuse--so that these things may never SOIL your lips." (Colossians 3:8)

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