You've probably been there before.
Road tripping through the middle of nowhere, deciding it's time to make a pit stop, pulling into a gas station or convenience store, finding the restroom, and stepping into a biohazard unfit for a sewer rat.
Add to this scene the challenge of helping a small child use the facilities without touching anything, and you've just created the perfect storm.
Carelessly used, sparsely supplied, and seemingly seldom cleaned public restrooms are just a part of the reality of traveling by car across great distances.
Having experienced this many times, I've occasionally reflected on why this is. The answer, of course, is simple. If a restroom is in bad condition, it probably isn't cleaned very often. So, I got to thinking one time, somewhere on the highway while my family slept, about a sure-fire way to provide travelers with clean restrooms without having to rely on an infinite variety of employees to take the time to keep them clean.
It all came together in my mind.
It would be perfect.
Public restrooms would clean themselves. They would be made entirely of stainless steel, every surface. The walls would be fitted with high-powered jets that would spray a potent soapy-water mix all over the room and everything in it, at two or three regular intervals each day. What about the toilet paper? Not to worry. The container holding it would be rigged up to seal itself tight just before the super-jets kicked in, and open up again only after the cleanse was finished and all was dry.
And I, along with millions of conscientious travelers like me, would be able to walk into any public restroom without worry, and without a haz-mat suit.
Well, it didn't take more than a few miles of highway to come to grips with the fact that this scenario was never going to happen. It would be far too expensive to ever become a reality, not to mention the surefire lawsuit from the first person to get trapped inside the restroom during the jet-powered, scalding-hot cleanse.
So, I was back at square one: Bathrooms get dirty, and they don't get clean again until someone takes brush in hand and does the cleaning. There is no mechanism to make it automatic, no technology to make it less personal, no way to eliminate the risk of getting dirty in the process.
So it is with most other necessary tasks in our lives. They don't get done unless we do them. The lifestyle of the Jetsons hasn't become a reality, even though we all thought it surely would, back when we were looking "way ahead" to the year 2000. Ten years after that milestone, we still scrub toilets in the same old way, (give or take some fancier cleaning tools), and if we neglect the job, we live with the same unpleasantness that has always occurred when this chore doesn't get done.
Everybody wants clean restrooms. Everybody wants a clean home. Everybody wants a nice neighborhood, a good school, a thriving church, a loving family.
Every Christian wants the gospel proclaimed and the lost saved by its power.
These are all good and noble desires, and no one should hope for anything less. But how tempting is it to passively allow ourselves to assume that these goals, far more important than household chores, will be fulfilled any other way than with our personal involvement?
Jesus is not dependent upon our efforts to accomplish His will, but stop for a moment to consider some of His commands and how personal they are:
"Love one another."
"Feed my lambs."
"...wash one another's feet."
No matter the time or culture in which these words are read, the commands of Christ are personal. For those who choose to obey Him, there is no other way to do His will than to simply do it. No one else obeys on a disciple's behalf. There is no machine to do the obeying for us. Even in the world of the web, technology cannot obey the personal commands of Jesus for us.
And as with the joy of a task well done, the peace to be found in obedience to Jesus can be truly experienced only by those who themselves personally obey Him, never by anyone who waits for a solution that would allow him to remain passive.
And the consequences of neglecting to do His will are felt by many.
But of course, a life with Christ is not a chore like cleaning the house. It is a love deeper than a marriage and more assured than parenthood. It is a personal walk that will only grow more precious with time.
Who could think a relationship this real could be experienced passively, without personal commitment?