“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”
Lamentations 3:21, 22
We all have mess. I surely do.
When I was a young girl, my mom handed me the book, Old Yeller, and told me, “you’re going to cry when you read this.”
I didn’t. It was a spiteful hardness, the determination that no matter how intensely sad the story became, I wouldn’t cry simply because she said I would.
This hasn’t changed much over time. I can generally keep an open mind until someone tells me, “You WILL, you WON’T you CAN’T, you MUST, you HAVE to . . . ” Anything that pushes me into a corner receives a (sometimes unwarranted) push back.
I have other stuff, too. Like the fact that I ALWAYS get lost and the directions that make so much sense to everyone else on the planet become a jumbled mass of confusion to me.
I have an organized mind that sees the world in a perpetual outline with points I, II and II and subpoints A, B, and C, but I desperately need a personal secretary to keep me from losing papers and to clean through my desk and help me remember where I put my keys, the library book, the document, the super important thing that I absolutely cannot lose but have managed to misplace.
It doesn’t end there. I’m a people-pleaser in daily need of encouragement and too easily crushed by constructive criticism. I’m not always patient with failure, especially in myself, and even sometimes with my kids. I have a problem with jealousy, not so much for “stuff,” but maybe for success or impact.
There’s more. The longer I sit here typing away, the more mess I’ll probably discover.
And while in any and all of these areas God has been at work, digging out junk, sometimes with a gentle gloved hand and sometimes with a pick-axe, still there is mess. There are days where it’s a little overwhelming. Or maybe a lot.
When my house is too disorderly, I can’t think, I can’t concentrate, my stress level rises. It’s the same with my heart when I see the junk drawers overflowing or discover trash hiding in corners that I hadn’t noticed before.
How is there any room left for what is good and pure and lovely?
How is there any possibility of inviting God in amongst junk?
How can anyone feel welcomed and loved into this place of distracting trash?
Once when she was out driving, Ruth Graham noticed that a stretch of highway that had undergone road work for far too long was finally finished and reopened. They had even posted a sign: “End of Construction. Thanks for Your Patience.”
She wanted that message to be on her tombstone, a reminder that it’s only in heaven, at the feet of God and clothed in the forgiveness of Christ, that construction on our hearts and minds will be complete.
Until then, we need people–and God–to be patient with us. Yes, we even need to be a little patient with ourselves.
God is able to transform us and make us new as long as we give over sin, faults, idols, foibles, weakness and failures to Him. This is part of our salvation story, not a one-time dip in the cleansing blood of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s the journey of our faith, the sanctification or making holy over time.
And it does take time.
This is what Paul promises, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV).
In the meantime, we have grace, precious grace, and the reminder that our mess is never too heavy to bring to God.
My own efforts are little more than attempts at self-control, self-direction, self-justification, self-perfection, self-reliance and self-confidence.
Then, SELF just becomes part of the mess that we lug to the feet of Jesus.
Ultimately, our own efforts fail. Giving up completely hinders our relationship with God. Wallowing in self-loathing means we reject His grace as insufficient to cover our sin.
All that’s left is to bring our mess to God and rejoice in His mercy. Like the woman who poured out her tears and expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, we find ourselves moved to passionate worship of and service for a God who has forgiven our many sins (Luke 7:47).
Paul wrote, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” ( Romans 12:1).
We aren’t holy and pleasing sacrifices to God because we’re finished, perfected, construction complete.
Instead, we offer ourselves up, mess and all, “in view of God’s mercy.”
His grace covers us, cleanses us and, in His compassion, He transforms us. He’s big enough and gracious enough to tackle our mess until the day He decides that construction is complete and He takes us home.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.