Locked in the Bathroom

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What is it like to hear a word from God?

It’s safe to say that many of those who attend worship are hoping to hear something – perhaps an insight, a reminder, or a word of hope.

More than a dozen years ago, those attending the 8:15 am Sunday worship service at my friend Keith’s congregation in Wichita, KS heard what can only be described as a clear instruction. 

Keith, as the lead pastor, had the run of the “catacombs” of his church facility – an unusual collection of hallways and rooms adjoining the pastor’s study. 

Church building committees are famous for making reality-confounding decisions.  At some point in the past it had seemed wise to a group of earnest people to construct a private washroom for the pastor – one that had both indoor and outdoor access.  It quickly became apparent that such a room posed a security risk.  Outsiders could potentially enter the building through the exterior door.  Therefore that entrance was both locked and alarmed.   

To bolster security, the interior bathroom door was also secured with a lock – from the side of the door that faced the inside of the church.   Which means, if you’re keeping track, it was entirely possible to enter the pastor’s bath and be accidentally locked inside.  That’s exactly what happened to Keith that Sunday morning before the early service.

Should he hope someone would realize his dilemma?  Would somebody come to rescue him?  Should he go ahead and open the exterior door, setting off the alarm? 

Keith, wearing his pastoral robe, had already received his lavalier mic from the worship team.  He toggled the power switch and called to his Director of Operations.  He remembers that he actually whispered:  “Martin, come help me, I’m locked in my bathroom” – a message instantaneously broadcast to all those sitting in the sanctuary.

God’s people, waiting to hear a word that might change their eternal destiny, heard instead a plea to be released from washroom incarceration. 

Needless to say, Keith and Martin received a standing ovation when they entered the sanctuary a few minutes later.

A funny thing happens when we open our hearts to receive spiritual direction from God.  Very often what we hear doesn’t sound particularly spiritual. 

There’s a single parent who can’t pay her utility bill this month.  It would mean the world if you could help her. 
A friend of yours is so afraid of losing his job that he can hardly sleep.  Why don’t you grab some coffee with him?
That older neighbor you sometimes greet has barely left her house since the beginning of the pandemic.  I bet she would welcome a phone call. 
Instead of spending two hours surfing Netflix, think how much happier you’d be if you helped distribute meals at the food bank.   

It turns out that few things are more godly than showing God’s love in a practical way.

The Holy Spirit knows how to connect the dots between our deepest spiritual yearnings and the world’s most practical needs. 

And every time you say yes to such promptings?

You’ll be surprised how often you end up unlocking a door for someone else.