Imagine me dressed up in my grey slacks and white blouse ready to teach a college class. A picture of conformed professionalism. I walk into the bathroom before class and something makes me halt.
A woman was singing her little heart out in the bathroom. I mean this was not humming. This was full-out belting her favorite song in a bathroom stall.
That takes guts. That takes a different kind of person … most likely not one in dress slacks.
I stood there and listened for a while. I wanted to figure this lady out. Who was she?? A music major? Did she have a vocal audition today? Or did she truly just like to sing and didn’t care where she was and who heard?
One thing’s for sure. She was not like 99.9% of the rest of the people who would walk in that bathroom today. She was obviously different– in a courageous, quirky, and free kind of way.
Now I don’t know if I will be singing in any public bathrooms, but I do want to be different. I want to be more courageous and free. I want to live life to the beat of Jesus’ drum instead of the pounding drum of the world. I want to sing loudly to him and for him with my life and not care what other people think or say.
I think if we really did sing our lives for Jesus we would start looking quite different than the world — maybe even different than we ourselves look now.
In the book of Colossians the apostle Paul is in prison for his faith in Christ. He was probably very hungry, dirty, hurt, and had no freedom in his immediate future. What was striking to me this time as I read, was how many times he urged the church to be thankful. Every hardship the world could throw at this guy, he had endured not only without complaining, but full of thankfulness and joy. Now that is different.
Meditate on God’s word for a minute…
“…since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:9-12
Paul was a good example of his words. He was able to bear fruit because he himself had been filled with the knowledge of God’s will through prayer and faith in Christ. He knew that God’s wisdom and strength were the only things that could show us how to be thankful and joyful and do good works even in the midst of deep sorrow or discouragement or loneliness or pain or judgement or stress. With God’s wisdom we can get through this world looking a little different — looking more like Jesus.
I sped through the last two verses of Colossians and had to stop myself and read them again.
“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’ I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Col. 4:17-18)
Then I read it again as if he were talking about me. “Tell Andrea Chatelain: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’ …Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
I remember the suffering and imprisonment Paul endured so that I, Andrea Chatelain, would have this bible sitting on my desk. So that I would know who Jesus is and would even be given the privilege of doing his work. Remembering the struggle of Christians before us, and the sacrifice of the cross, that were done with willingness, love, endurance, and thankfulness…makes me pause and evaluate who I am in Christ and who I want to be.
I want to be different not to gain favor, not to be better…but because I am loved by the God of the universe and I am so thankful for his nearness. Thankful that he saved me. Thankful that he is teaching me. Thankful that he hears me when I pray. Thankful that he is working in me through the Holy Spirit to make me different. Just thankful that I am his and not the world’s.
I want to speak differently. Using words of encouragement and peace in a world of comparison and negativity.
I want to hear differently. Letting others words wash through me in a filter of grace and mercy.
I want to see differently. Focusing on what is eternal instead of what is grabbing for my attention in this temporal world.
I want to love differently. Being patient and kind and forgiving even when it is completely undeserved.
I want to take off all the broken, bitter, self-serving parts of myself and put on Jesus’ love and righteousness through the Holy Spirit when I know my own will never be enough.
And I want all this so that somehow I can just like Archippus, “complete the work I’ve been given in the Lord.” — the work to love my people well.
So yeah. I guess I do want to sing in the bathrooms of life. You?