A couple weeks ago, Jack (4) and Brady (2) wanted cereal for breakfast. I hate giving them cereal. It’s like a morning game of Pie Face. Jack’s getting much better with balancing the spoon, full of milk and cocoa pebbles up to his mouth. But Brady, not so much. I knew it was going to be a mess. It’s unrealistic to think a toddler is going to perfectly eat from a pool of floating pebbles. I’m not sure why I hate messes so much… Scott handles it annoyingly perfectly, “Just spilled milk”. But Jenny, not so much. Back to the story…. After the mess that I knew would happen, my babies were playing in it, licking it off the table and finally trying to clean it up. Jack had a paper towel and was giving it his best try, but couldn’t get it all. I told him, “Let mommy help. Mommy will clean you up.” But he didn’t want to. Only after he saw that he couldn’t do it, did he let me help. And I felt a little whisper in my heart, “He can’t do it by himself, can he? Just like you can’t. Let Me clean you up.” Ok, great thought. But as my busy day went on, I kinda forgot about that. And I had a lot more messes to clean up. Fast forward to last week, I was driving to a dreaded doctor’s appointment. Praying about my long list of all that was wrong with me. Not sure if it was the fact that I would be facing a scale or what, but I decided to weigh out all of my issues. “God, I’m such a mess.” And He lovingly responded, “You’re MY mess.” Bawling….
And I finally put the pieces together—slow learner, I know ;). My boys are still mine, messy or not. I don’t give up on them because they spilled something accidentally or even when they choose to play in it. I still love them covered in cocoa pebbles and drenched in milk. It’s not even a question if they’re worth all of the time and effort I put into caring for them. In those moments, we’re building relationship and trust. They’re learning to come to me for help. I don’t love them because they’re perfect. I love them because they’re mine. Messes and all.
It reminds me of Romans 5:8-11 (emphasis mine).
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
I love how the Message version puts it:
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!
That phrase “we shall be saved” is actually just one word in the Greek, sōzō. It doesn’t just mean to save, but it also means to keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger and destruction, to heal, to make whole, to restore to health. I’ve had this wrong idea that once I got “saved” (repenting from my sins, asking Jesus to come and live in my heart and be the Master of my life), that all of my weaknesses and junk would vanish at that very moment. It’s not a one-and-done thing. It was just the kickoff to the clean-up process. I’ve got to continually bring my mess to Him. Actually His mess, because once He occupies your heart, He assumes the responsibility to clean the whole house, if we’ll let Him.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT, (emphasis mine)
It’s His work to finish the good work He began in me and you, not ours. Don’t let condemnation point its finger of shame at you any more and keep you away from the very One who can and wants to clean you up. Take ahold of the loving hand of conviction, and bring all of it to Jesus. He loves to give His children a bath.
Right now, as I’m writing this, Brady spilled some milk. So funny. God has a great sense of humor. “No big deal, baby. Spilled milk. You’re MY mess and I love you. Let mommy clean you up.”