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Sponge Theology

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45, NIV)

Friend to Friend
What is really inside will come spilling out for all to see when life puts the squeeze on us. My Mama used to say “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” In other words, a crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts. It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are. It is kind of like sponge theology.

Suppose you have five sponges lying on your kitchen counter. Each member of your family has been cleaning different areas of your home, but the sponges all look the same. You are curious about what was cleaned but you can’t tell just by looking at the sponges since they all look the same. So what do you do?

You squeeze each sponge to see what happens. As you squeeze the first sponge, brown cola comes pouring out. Someone must have cleaned the kitchen with that sponge. Upon squeezing the second sponge, you see blue tub and tile cleaner oozing out of the sponge which leads you to believe someone used that particular sponge to clean the bathroom. In the third sponge, you find motor oil and conclude your husband was using that sponge to clean the garage. The fourth sponge produces a puff of baby powder when it is squeezed. The baby’s nursery was obviously cleaned with that sponge. Finally, the last sponge is dripping with floor wax which tells you someone used that particular sponge to clean the hall floor. As you lay the last sponge down, you look again at their similarity. They all look the same — until they are squeezed.

We are a lot like sponges when it comes to our faith in God. We look and act as if God is Lord of our lives. We say all the right things to all the right people and do right things in order to prove we are right. But what is really inside? What do our hearts really look like?

When a crisis comes and the pressures of life squeeze us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, what comes out? Do we respond to that difficult person in anger or with patience and love? Does revenge spill out in ugly words to that person who has hurt us more times than we can count or do we take a breath and remember that God loves them and that hurt people tend to hurt people? Does the pain of unresolved sin flood our hearts and minds as guilt spills out of our heart with a vengeance?

Just like the sponge, we can only squeeze out what is put in. Fill your heart with the things of God. Stay in the Word each day. Spend time with faith builders who will encourage you in your faith. Seek God and His plan for your life. Pray about everything so that when life puts the squeeze on you – and it will – the very nature of God will come pouring out. 

Let’s Pray
Father, I want my faith to be more than just talk. I want it to be real and authentic, flowing from a heart set on You. Forgive me when I play religious games and pretend to be someone I am not. I am a sinner saved by Your grace. Teach me how to walk in that grace so that when the hard times come and the pressure is on, You come pouring out of my life.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn
Think back to the last time you were surprised by your reaction to a situation or a person. What does that tell you about the condition of your heart? Set aside time to spend alone with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin that needs to be faced and confessed. Give Him permission to purify your heart so that no matter what life throws at you, God will be honored by how you respond.

More from the Girlfriends
As a pastor’s wife, I have talked with so many women who feel as if they were worthless, a freakish accident. Listen, my friend, you were planned and wanted by God. God is crazy about you and wants an intimate relationship with you.  I pray that you will see yourself in the eyes of God, a chosen child. Need help? Check out one of Mary’s MP3 downloads, Come as You Are to discover how to see yourself through the eyes of God.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website.

Need help getting the Word of God into your life? Check out Mary’s Weekly Online Bible Study, When I Am Afraid, to learn how to face, deal with and surrender your fears to God.

Are you ready to begin a new faith adventure? Get a copy of our new book, Trusting God

19 Responses

  1. Peggy Shearman says:

    I have a 35 year old son who is just plain mean to me. The final straw was when he asked me to do some Christmas shopping for his kids. He said he would pay me when I gave him the amount he owed me. He has always paid me if I went to town and picked up a few grocery items for him so I figured he would pay me. I haven’t seen the money yet and I wonder if I will ever see it. He is a heavy drinker in denial, yet I see the progression of the disease.
    I used your example of squeezing the different sponges as I thought about my son. When I squeezed his sponge, pain and confusion oozed out. It saddens me so very much to see my son as he is. Now I realize I can’t go by how life once was with him. Despite my low fixed income and now some debt, I trust God to help me pay the bill. I will also have to tighten my boundaries as I deal with my son and that may mean not seeing my grandchildren as often. Jesus will be my Comforter rather than trying to fix my son which I know I can’t do. Alcoholism is cunning and baffling. That is the confusion that was soaked up by me. I can’t be in that place anymore. My boundaries need to firm and clear. The input into my sponge will need to be from a different source in order for me to cope with the situation.
    I appreciate this devotion as it provided me with a tool to help me manage the depression I have been feeling lately.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Peggy! I encourage you to stay focused on Jesus and attend Al-Anon meetings in your community. I have been helped so much by attending them to deal with alcoholism in my family. You can find locations on the internet.
      Keep loving and encouraging your son, but set firm boundaries for yourself with him. Do not let your grandchildren be caught in the “crossfires” between you and your son. Stay connected with your grandchildren. They do not need more confusion by an absent grandmother. You may be one of the only sources of stability and love for them!
      Trust God for your provision. He will never leave you nor forsake you! I’m praying for you and your son. With care, Suzanne

    • mary mary says:

      Peggy, I am so proud of you for setting boundaries. You are doing the right thing for you….and for your son. I pray God gives you strength and wisdom for every step ahead. Blessings.

  2. Debbie Johnson says:

    Thank you for this message. I have so much anger inside me. It has made me a very unhappy person at times. I need to respond more like Jesus with people in my life and remain in his word daily.

    • mary mary says:

      Get that anger out in other ways, Debbie. A doctor once told me to get a punching bag….or use a pillow and beat on my bed. But most importantly, give the root of that anger to God. When you sense it coming….respond with Scripture and prayer. Hang in there. God is with you.

  3. Jennie Wilmot says:

    Hi Mary,
    For more than a couple of years now, I’ve been working at getting my life with God back to where it needs to be, where it should be, but recently, for some unknown reason to myself, I’ve kinda fallen by the wayside, and let my prayer life and Bible reading go. Needless to say, these are not good things when you’re the Woman Mission Union Director and Ladies Ministry Leader in your church, but you work really hard at hiding it. There was something about this devotional today that really spoke to me, and with God’s help, I can get my life back together and get myself back to where I need to be. Of course, I love all the GiG devotionals, and I share many of them with friends. But today, this one is mine. You and I were sitting across the table from each other with our coffee, and you speaking directly to me. I want to thank you so much this and all the devotionals you ladies put together for us. I may not get the chance to read them all, but I do read almost all of them, and I keep them, so I can go back to them when I need to. You ladies ROCK! Oh my, did those words just come from the mind and fingers of one who is 55?!!? LOL You bet your sweet bippy they did! And she’s not afraid to admit it either. Thank you again, and have a super blessed day! God bless each and every one you ladies. Love and hugs, Jennie

  4. Margaret says:

    As always thanks for the great devotional. I find it so inspirational and helpful.

  5. Christine says:

    My first devotional from this site. Felt like God was speaking directly to me. Looking forward to signing up and reading them daily.
    Blessings to all and thanks for sharing your gifts and talents.

  6. waqa says:

    my heart ache! my soul cried! Oh My dear Father! this devotional scipture is mine. God of grace is talking to me. a preety and precious vessels of Lord giving the messages of the hour to this broken vessel. thank you for your help,encouragement ….i don’t know how to express myself…please need your prayers and your continual inspirational messages. GOD BLESS… GIG….

    • mary mary says:

      Waqa, I think you did a beautiful job of describing your thoughts and emotions. I am so glad God is speaking to you through the devotions. I pray God blesses your life with His strength and power and love.

  7. john says:

    I know that my English is not correct but try to read it well so u can understand what i wrote Am student and am having problem to understand what am read and i can not stand in front of people talk, please i need ur prayer please. I Read what u wrote by squeeze sponges and i wanted to share this to u so u can put me in ur prayer.

  8. john says:

    Amen, sister i really appreciate may blessing you for all your good work u have be doing for people.

  9. john says:

    Amen, Sister I really really Appreciate it may God continue blessing you for all the good thing you may during for people.

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