Thursday, March 19, 2020
WHERE DID ALL OF THE TOILET PAPER GO?
Can you spare a square?
What has happened to all of the toilet paper? Where did it all go? It feels like just yesterday that I was strolling through my local Costco and saw stacks upon stacks of the fluffy two-ply butt napkins. What happened? Did I miss something? I did not get the memo, and I am sure that no one pulled me aside and whispered in my ear to stock up. But it is gone...All of it!!! Know that I am not worried (we are always stocked in TP), but this mess over the last week or so has gotten me thinking and asking what in the world is going on?
I understand that these are unprecedented times. My children are washing their hands on a regular basis. Schools are closed. People are working from home. #Self-isolation. Vacations that were saved and planned for months or even years are being canceled. Gyms are closed. Professional sports are postponed. Instead of watching March Madness, we are marching in madness. In just a few short days the world has cannon-balled into the pool of chaos. The panic button was not pushed but smashed with a sledgehammer.
Toilet paper is now the new symbol of the panic. If there had an international road sign for alarm, it would be a giant yellow warning triangle with a toilet paper roll in the middle. But why, TP? I could understand the hand-sanitizer or even the bleach, but TP? How much toilet paper does one need? While this phenomenon will most likely remain a mystery, it got me thinking. What if there is a lesson to be learned in the TP? What if there is something deeper that God is trying to show us in the middle of all this?
At first glance, I thought there might be a lesson about being generous. Scripture has much to say about being generous and sharing with others. Here are a few.
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share (1Timothy 6:18).
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor (Proverbs 22:9).
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God(Hebrews 13:16).
As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack”(2 Cor. 8:15).
However, I am pretty sure that the lesson here is not about you or I sharing a square. It would be so easy for me to give more, try harder, share your TP, but the lesson is not about being you or me being generous. We all know that sharing is a part of life. We are all taught at a very young age to share our toys. We are lectured to share our thoughts. We are trained to share our time and our talents. Generosity and sharing are character traits that are applauded, encouraged, and promoted. Over time we begin to love the attention that being generous brings us. We love the applause and bask in the attention. I hate to admit it, but I have never liked sharing. As a youngster, I did not want to share my toys. I abhor sharing food and do not get me started about my time. Even today, if I am going to give something or do something, reciprocity is a requirement. Could it be written in the toilet paper…the cold hard truth is that our default setting is SELFISH?
The Apostle James writes, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16). If it is true that our default setting is selfish, then the place of disorder and every vile practice is our very own hearts!! We are jealous and self-serving. We are frightened and near-sighted. We hoard everything from our TP and emotions to our talents and our love. The only one that I trust to give my heart and resources to is myself.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “The greatest enemy to the human soul is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.” The truth hidden in the TP is that we are hoping to save ourselves. We seem to believe that if we just have enough, secure enough… everything will be ok. We run blindly to any THING we believe will make us safe and secure even if that thing is flushed down the drain. I guess the words of CS Lewis are true, “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
We all have all fallen short of the glory of God and are a much bigger mess than we would ever want to admit. We are not generous, and we need rescuing from ourselves. We have fallen into the gory pit of this godless world, and no matter how much TP is at the bottom, there is no cushioning the fall.
The lesson we need to hear in this toilet paper crisis is that we need Someone who is always generous to rescue us. We need Someone who shared not just a square, but all of Himself. We need someone who did not give out of His excess, but poured out His very own blood.
Jesus freely gave all of Himself. He willingly went to the Cross that we deserve. He did this not because we are good enough or because we have prepared enough. He gave of Himself not because we have enough or even because in the off-chance we might be generous in offering our neighbor one of our spare rolls. He gave of Himself because that is who He is. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
If we really understood the Gift of God, would we be so concerned and consumed with TP? There is only ONE thing that can keep us safe and it doesn’t come on a roll!