A mess is unsettling to me. It's tiring. It's stressful! I feel chaotic inside when things are chaotic around me and I'm the boss around here so "OK guys, it's time for a house sweep!".
My sister, Karen, said it best when she said this: "Life is messy!"
It's a common catch phrase now but that was the first time I had heard someone articulate the very thing that was constantly grating against my sensibilities. Thankfully hearing it out loud helped me view it differently: life is very messy.
And. That's. OK.
When Josiah was around 3 someone gave me the idea of pouring flour on the floor and letting him play in it. I though that sounded crazy! It sounded so, so . . . messy!! But I'll tell you what - I gritted my teeth and I dumped half a bag of flour out on the tile and that boy just played and played and giggled and touched and played and felt and smiled and dug around in that flour. It was awesome! It was a pain to clean up but that was nothing compared to the joy he and I shared over half a bag of flour!
Now there are dishes on the counter and laundry in piles and shoes strewn about but I recognize that all of these are signs of life! There's also the training of young men in the doing of chores and the responsibility of being part of a family and sometimes that process is messier than the house will ever be!
Some messes can be cleaned up and some can't, but I have to remember that messes of every kind are made by people and people are precious to the Lord. Apart from God Himself, only two things are eternal: God's Word and people. So Lord Jesus, help me to look at the people and put up with the mess rather than focusing on the mess and - sometimes not very successfully - putting up with the people.
At our house we celebrate when the toilet clogs because it is a reminder that this is the second year in a row that our proud provider of plumbing problems will not spend the better part of a week in the hospital for chronic constipation. Yep, life is messy. Messy, but glorious.
Sometimes messy is incredibly beautiful . . . like the rolling sparkle-sweet that pops in Josiah's rich, contagious laughter.
~ Daniel's gentle, baby-soft hand rubbing my cheek as his jam-sticky lips whisper, "Mama, I just love you so much!!"
~ Growing sons running around the yard bent in half trying to corral the last of the chickens, laughing to beat the band, filled with the joy of boyhood and the sun-soaked contentment of our little 'farm' here in the suburbs.
Sometimes the messiness of life rages out of control and I realize that for all my fancy talk I don't actually want to play in the big leagues!! I much prefer to pontificate about the rich depths of faith in God and all He can do; then double check tomorrow's To Do list, kiss my babies good night and sleep peacefully the whole night through. But as it turns out, sometimes life is really, really messy . . .
Sometimes one of those precious babies gets diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and we weep the night through asking God if this mess can even be cleaned up! Sometimes God-given dreams get put on hold while we struggle to wait on the Lord because only He could ever deal with this mess. Sometimes all of a sudden the finances are not what we thought they were going to be and Lord? What do we do with this mess?! Relationships flounder and fail and sometimes private tragedies leave us feeling ashamed and we try to hide our mess. But friends? We all have a mess of one kind or another!
I love what Job had to say about it; Job, an ancient fellow supremely qualified to speak to us in our today-mess. He said, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" He also said the following; one of the most humble things he could have said given his tragically ravaged situation: "I know my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." Even when the worst possibility has become reality, God is to be trusted.
When I feel bogged down in overwhelming mess of every kind I remember what my gracious God has promised: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future!'" God, with all His power and all His love, is in control of this whole crazy mess! There is absolutely nothing beyond His ability to affect His perfect plan for your precious life and for mine!
So today, rest. Trust! And please, be encouraged . . . Even if things seem a bit messy.