“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6).
So, I walked into a Holiday Gas Station bathroom this week, and suddenly a light from Heaven burst through the dim light of that grimy little stall and I felt the Presence of the Divine touch my shoulder and smile upon me!
Bear with me….I’ll explain. I’m not crazy, I promise. But you have to admit, a gas station single occupancy 6 foot by 6 foot restroom about the last place you’d expect God to meet you!
This is why I love the Bible. God is always showing up in the strangest places, and transforming ordinary real estate into the sanctuary of God or ground zero for a divine epiphany.
Moses found God in a burning bush. Jacob discovered a desert rest stop was the God’s house. Mary learned God had taken up residence in her very womb. Then nine-months later some curious shepherds and confused animals watched God make His grand appearance in a barn out back. What strange divine habitation!
If I may compare the two for a moment, I’ll bet that stable full of animals was probably dirtier and smellier than even a gas station bathroom!
Back to my bathroom epiphany this week. As I sat down to “think”, I was flooded with a vivid memory of a huge moment in my personal journey. You see, almost exactly 10 years ago, I received an important call on my cellphone in that very bathroom. (Strange, I know.)
I had been candidating for a ministry position I really wanted, and was awaiting that big call to either hear the polite rejection or be offered the job. On that toilet, I accepted my first full-time ministry position! (The awkward part is that I was traveling with a car full of youth from our current church to an event that night, and I had to hide my excitement from them when I got back into the car.)
But this is how that dingy, smelly little 6×6 foot bathroom stall was transformed into a porcelain tile sanctuary where God smiled upon me and gave me the blessing of a new ministry call! Granted, its a really strange place to praise God for his faithfulness, and I don’t plan to make it a regular place of pilgrimage — but every 10 years might be reasonable.
But I’m once again reminded that we follow the kind of God who condescends to meet his people pretty much anywhere he can find us and get our attention. And we all know the toilet is not a bad place to go when you need a little peace and quiet in a loud, distracted world. Maybe that’s the place Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples, “When you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matt 6:6)! It doesn’t get much more secret than that!