It was another sweet morning walking into church with my boys ready to set up a few classrooms for our kiddos. Except upon opening the doors we were greeted with quite a different scene than usual. It was literally under construction. Classes that were filthy; unidentifiable objects stuck to the floor. And as I walked the halls surveying the dust, assessing the usability of the space, I heard the Lord’s soft stirring in my heart- the quiet whispers of His voice saying this. is. good.
Which is funny, right. Because … like… it really wasn’t. I can attest and confirm that it was actually disastrous looking. What if it causes a distraction? Will people leave? Will people trust us with their children? How long will it be like this?
But again, He stirred and spoke, give me what you have.
And it dawned on me…such freedom in the mess. The freedom from having to be put together and everything neat and tidy. There was something relatable about the big fat mess covering the floors and walls and doorways.
I’m not sure when exactly, but somewhere along the way I learned that lovely is best; excellence is: pleasing to the eye, well coordinated, strategically planned, branded. Neat, tidy, put together. Happy and assembled into a cute marketing package. Programatic. Adorable photos with the hashtag blessed. Experiential - intended to give people a positive and entertaining experience making them want to come back, bring a friend and fill a seat.
But contrary to so many of the things we strive for, He says just give me what you’ve got.
Loaves. Fishes. Oil. Water. Staff. Faith. Two coins. Wineskins.
He is the God that makes beauty from ashes.
He gives strength to the weary.
He breathes life into the dead.
He makes rags beautiful.
Those who are last become first.
He lifts the lowly.
He exalts the humble.
He fathers the orphan.
He is the with-us God that came to the very unlovliest of situations and breathed life.
And my honest life is that my heart often feels a mess. I get angry. Irritable. Selfish, for sure. My five year old asked why I’m wearing the same outfit. again. on day four. I’m tired. It’s dusty and I just dusted yesterday. My home can sometimes feel chaotic. I feel frazzled any day that involves me leaving my house for more than 2 hours. My ducks in a row? I swear I’ve got UFOs running amock, someone please GIVE ME THE DUCKS.
But He says give it to me and see what I can do.
As 2018 ushers itself in far faster than I am ready for, I hear the Lord reminding us that our best is not defined by the order of our homes nor the neatness and politeness of our children; The cuteness of my kids or the table setting for Easter brunch or the contents of our childrens' lunch boxes. It’s got nothing to do with the number of programs my children are involved in or how many Bible verses they’ve managed to store up. Our best isn’t defined by how many outreach opportunities and Bible Studies we can cram into our schedule - nor is it defined by whether or not my husband and I have a regularly scheduled date night. It’s not the best planned vacations or the most educational field trips. It’s not lofty financial goals or paying off the last of those student loans (though both great options). My best has nothing to do with what’s in my refrigerator at snack time - or breakfast. or lunch or dinner. Those 2018 goals, however well intentioned they are, don’t define where my best measures up.
My best is acknowledging that without Him, I’ve got nothing.
My best is saying, here I am in all my mess, have your way today Lord.
Please take my mess and make it beautiful. Take the ways I’ve missed it and make it whole. Let me get out of myself long enough to see who you want me to see not what I want others to see. Because in each and every moment, it is who we are in HIM that will determine our identity, our very best today, our very best this year. There’s not a single action, picture, post, table spread, art lesson, or nature walk that will define my worth more than Christ himself in the year 2018.
So this year, let’s make it a goal to give Him what we’ve got - our messy and tired and un-put-togetherness, all of what we might perceive as unusable - let’s leave behind keeping up with the Jones’ and making another mark that we just weren’t intended to keep - and thrive in Him today; this week; this year.