Blocked toilets and sin

Sin is something we don’t like to talk about but a friend blocking our toilet reminded me about how God doesn’t reject us when we ‘fess up about our sin.

“Katie, I need a plunger, a bucket and for you not to go in there.” My guest gestured towards the bathroom. “We’ve got a slight, er, poo situation.”

My friend was clearly embarrassed by how he and another guest had blocked our upstairs toilet. I have no idea the extent of the damage because I obeyed his instructions and left a plunger along with a bucket just outside the door.

We never spoke of it again. Why would we? By the time I next entered the bathroom it was sparkling clean. He’s sorted it out. He’d cleaned it up, saving me from the unpleasant sight.

The Prayer of Manasseh says,

“The sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea;

My transgressions are multiplied!

I am not worthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities.”

(Prayer of Manasseh 9)

Sin is not a word that we like to talk about. It makes us feel awkward as though we are espousing judgement on others or are full of self loathing.

But anyone who has been tasked with unblocking a feces-filled toilet will recognise the writer’s sentiment. It’s a horrific situation wherever you are, but it’s particularly grim when you’re a guest and it’s not your bathroom. A feeling of panic sets in until, if you’re a kind guest, you seek out your host. With lowered eyes you’ll ask for some specialist equipment to assist you in your mess.

We’re acutely aware of our own sin. Usually it doesn’t require someone to point it out. Like a turd floating in an over-filled toilet bowl, our sin is hard to ignore.

We can be tempted to think that we can handle it ourselves. If we read that self-help book or try that extra bit more, we’ll be able to wash the stench away.

But like my friend’s vain efforts to clear the toilet, our attempts can make the situation worse. One poo turns into “a multitude of inequities”.

At what point do we decide to cut our losses and find the homeowner to ‘fess up? Often we let it go on for longer than it need to. Our muttering, ‘I’ve got this!’ only highlights how out of our depth we are.

We feel a sense of shame, avoiding eye contact, as the writer says, “I am not worthy to look up and see the height of heaven.” But when we approach God, confessing to the mess and hurt we’ve created, he doesn’t hand us a pair of rubber gloves and a plunger. He doesn’t tell us to get on with it. He doesn’t  turn his nose up at our filthy demeanor. Instead, he says, “I’ve got this.”

As the writer goes on to say, “For you O Lord, are the God of those who repent, and in me you will manifest your goodness; for, unworthy as I am , you will save me according to your great mercy.”

This is what Christianity is essentially about. God cleans up my mess so I don’t have to be ashamed. He’s the gracious host who sorts out the blocked toilet of our accumulated mistakes and misplaced intentions.

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