My kitchen sponge doesn’t look like much when it sits by my sink, but without it, dishwashing might truly become a chore. As we all know, sponges are particularly good at absorbing water and water based solutions and if they have one of those handy “scrubby” sides, food is no match against them with a little elbow grease. I recently learned that the kitchen sponge is usually made from cellulose wood fibers or foamed plastic polymers, the sound of which almost makes you not want to touch one again! Because cellulose sponges are primarily made of wood fiber they are susceptible to bacterial growth if they remain wet between uses. But research done at the University of Florida showed that sponges which were heated in the microwave for 2 minutes after each use were virtually bacteria free.
Unlike a sponge with unwanted bacteria, the process of soaking up God’s Word and keeping it in my heart is a good thing according to Scripture. Psalm 1 tells me that a person who has absorbed God’s Word by meditating on it day and night is like a well-watered tree which produces a bountiful harvest of fruit. This image is also pictured in Ps. 92:12-14 where the psalmist declares that a righteous man will flourish like the cedars of Lebanon that once grew abundantly on the hillsides of northern Israel and still grow in Lebanon today. The prophet Jeremiah also compares the righteous and wicked in the same manner (Jer. 17:7-8). The righteous are prosperous because they trust the Lord to provide for them like a tree whose roots reach beneath the surface to the water table to find water, whereas the wicked trust only in their own strength and ability. According to Jeremiah the wicked will never produce fruit even though they may seem to prosper at times. In the heat of the desert, the wicked will soon perish because their resources will dry up.
In Israel, where this psalm is originally set, Acacia trees are known for having the ability to send tap roots down hundreds of feet to get to a water source. Jesus also used this imagery when He told the disciples the He was the Vine and they were the branches (Jn. 15:1-11). Jesus said that those who are connected to His commandments and are committed to keep them, are just like fruit bearing branches (vv.4-5). A vinedresser prunes fruit bearing branches in order to keep them healthy, but branches which do not bear fruit are cut completely off and thrown away (v.6). Why? It is because they are draining nutrients away from the fruit-bearing branches. By remaining tapped into Jesus, The Word (vv.7-10), we as His branches will not just produce fruit, but produce it abundantly (v.11). When you have really taken God’s Word to heart, and absorbed it so that it is at the forefront of your mind, will and emotions, the storms and trials of life don’t hit you as hard. Your roots and strength come from a source well beneath the surface of day to day life (Jer. 17:8).
In a similar fashion Jesus used the analogy of building a house in the sand as opposed to building on rock (Mt. 7:23-27; Lk. 6:45-49). Like a branch that is not connected to a water source, building in the sand is shaky. With no foundation to speak of any flash flood can sweep through and overwhelm the house. But like a vine that is tapped into water, a house built on rock is solid and can withstand the storms of life. The tap root brings up nutrients from its deep water source. The house embedded in rock has a sure foundation that the strongest storms cannot shake. Jesus said that anyone who believes in Him is connected to a deep water source (Jn. 7:37-38) rather than a stagnant one. Stagnant water is often algae-laden and undrinkable. But living water has movement and a plethora of health benefits. It is obvious which one I want my sponge to soak up!
So this week I will take my spiritual cue from the sponge. Instead of collecting bacteria, I want to soak up God’s Word (Ps. 119:9-16) and that’s something I’ll be thinking about every time I wash the dishes.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre