Monday, August 17, 2009

When Bathrooms Are No Longer the Priority. . .


Teresa said, “Philip, let’s go do the Parade of Homes!”

Philip said, “Teresa, I don’t want to do the Parade of Homes!

Teresa said, “Philip, we are going to do the Parade of Homes!

Philip said, “Teresa, we are not going to do the Parade of Homes!

Then we got in the car and went to the Parade of Homes! I have found that doing such things as this creates for a mostly blissful state of marriage.

Little did I know what was in store for me on that day several weeks ago. I have not gone to the Parade of Homes in over ten years because. . . well, just because. One of the reasons that I don’t go is because it has a tendency to skew my priorities and it gives me the “Greedy Galloping Gimme’s.” This is one of the good lessons the Berenstain Bears taught me years ago when I was reading to my kids. The Parade of Homes, in times past, has created an uncomfortable discontentment with where I currently live which is not a good thing (not that there is anything wrong with where I currently live). Furthermore it has encouraged a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality, which is not good either.


For the uninitiated, the Parade of Homes is when the Dothan area homebuilders leave about 200 home newly built homes open for two consecutive weekends so they can be viewed by potential buyers. They are usually in top-notch neighborhoods and are tricked out with all the modern conveniences that incite an insatiable sense of materialism in most of the folks who walk through them. When you add to it immaculate lawns and manicured flower beds, it can get the best of even the most sensible buyers.

Since I had not been in more than 10 years it did not take long for me to see the new trendy architectural shift that has occurred. After about the third house, when we walked in the door, I took off in great haste for the coolest room in the house. Teresa, wanting to almost act as if she wasn’t with me, half-whispers and half-shouts, “Where are you going?” to which I yell over my shoulder “To the bathroom!!!!”

Amazing changes have happened in American bathrooms these days! First, they are huge. As in giant-sized 10 feet wide and in some of the houses as much as 25 feet long. They have jet Jacuzzis with a separate adjoining shower, nifty Delta faucets that are a dulled gold or bronze, sinks that look like large sea-shells or fancy cabinets, commodes that have all sorts of various designs, and the accompanying glass and mirrors are incredible. My only complaint about these new bathrooms is the windows that are not opaque. It appears to me that even in our “liberated” age that such an invention could lead to some downright embarrassing moments, especially if the neighbor in the back yard is mowing his grass or BBQ’ing with the buddies. Imagine looking up and seeing a group of local rednecks huddled around a grill sipping their favorite beverages and instead of their focus being on the grill and their drinks, they are peering across the backyard at the sight framed in one of these large bay window things. I doubt that would make you want to say, “Howdy neighbor!”

Toward the end of the day, a creeping madness had started raging in my heart. I knew that I was half-mad when at the next the last stop, I screeched up to the curb, slammed the brakes and with the car half-stopped and Teresa attempting to get over the whiplash from the sudden stop, I leaped out and cleared the manicured lawn in a full scale sprint. Flying up the steps, hustling across the long porch, and muttering under my breath, “Jet Jaccuzzi! Delta faucet!” I was in a nearly catatonic state. Teresa told me later that she was a little concerned about the glazed look I had in my eyes. I informed her that she should not worry about it because it was a near morbid state of materialism-itis. This is generally an inflammation of a greedy heart that usually passes with strong doses of Scripture, a reorientation of priorities, and hanging out with missionaries. I was almost at a point of critical mass when two missionaries dragged me back from the abyss.

It was fortuitous that on that weekend that our church had been blessed with two missionary families. The Mike Patterson family (Romania, Muldova, & my brother-in-law) and the Robert Rodenbush family (Regional Field Supervisor-Eastern Europe) had come to the wedding of my niece. So for two hours after my near fatal onset of madness, I had the Patterson’s and Rodenbush’s unfiltered. I am unsure of how we got around to the point of the conversation now, but eventually Sister Rodenbush began to tell us of standing in a bread line in with a missionary in that area of the world. She also shared that the apartment of these missionaries somewhere between 600-800 square feet. They chose one of the smallest they could find because they wanted to be frugal and spend their money in other areas to further the Gospel. When she said 600-800 square feet, I was smitten in my heart because just earlier in the day, I had stood in bathrooms that were at least 200 square feet, maybe more and I had wanted it! I had been almost willing to sell my birthright for a mess of pottage!

Her story continued and I was told of a kitchen sink that had those outside variety spigots like you find in our gardens here. The kitchen sink was mounted on a 2X4 frame that was without cabinet doors and only had cloth coverings. My brother-in-law told me later that this missionary had worked diligently and faithfully and over the years (more than 30) had seen three of the churches he served totally collapse and he had to start over from scratch. I had the occasion to spend two hours or so with this man and his wife about two years ago at a conference in Bucharest, Romania. Even before knowing of their sacrifice I felt an incredible spirit in them. It is of such a nature that it almost reaches out and grabs you (in a good way).

At the end of that day, I was thankful that God had providentially put these folks in my path because their lives (not just their stories) had helped to re-fire my priorities. Please don’t choke on the good life that American churchianity is offering these days there is much more to the picture than what most realize. Unless you make a concerted effort in your spiritual life, you will live a pale, lifeless, and cross-less life that will make no contribution and sadly in the end you will say, “I have wasted it!”

Last night when I got in late from church, I asked Teresa, “Where is our money going?” When she told me, my conscience was at rest because bathrooms are no longer the priority. . . The Gospel is!

To accent this blog, I encourage you to watch the following video. . . and then do something!




Go, Send, or Disobey. . . John Piper

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