rest for a messy life
I am drawn to magazines like Real Simple and Dwell with all the photographs of minimal homes, tidy yards, organized closets and sleek kitchens. I can look at page after beautiful page of spotless, mess-free spaces bathed in light. I long for that kind of life, but the reality is, I live in various degrees of mess!
Despite my attempts to keep wrinkles smoothed out of the cushions on the family room chairs, or daily wiping down water spots in the kitchen sink, and the tiny splatters from last night’s simmering sauce, they appear time and time again. Every day, the bed needs making, the clothes need washing, the desk needs straightening.
Greg loves to use me in one of his favorite illustrations. He contrasts how I clean with the way he cleans. He will say: I needed to clean my office the other day. It was a mess because I let it go so long, I couldn’t find one square inch of open space on my desk. I hate to clean and put it off until I can’t stand it any longer. On the other hand, my wife Cathe loves to clean. While she’s cooking dinner, she’s cleaning up, washing and putting things away. She is constantly straightening up and organizing! The other day, she made the bed—while I was still in it! That’s the Cathe way of cleaning.
But the reality is, I’m not a terribly organized person. How I wish I was! Anyone who knows me well knows this. I double-book appointments all the time, in spite of setting alerts on my phone. I lose things. I leave things behind. I lose track of time and run late.
I wish my closet looked like it came out of Real Simple . . . and that one miscellaneous drawer most people have? At times, I feel like that’s every drawer in my house! But that is not the worst of it.
My heart is messy, cluttered, and in constant need of cleansing.
When I take an honest look in my heart and face the mess, I get so discouraged. And discouragement is often compounded by the whisper of the enemy . . . you distracted, messy girl, you better get scrubbing and straighten yourself up, how could God love you?
Here is the truth. I am quite a mess. But because He loves me, I am not the mess I once was. And my desperate cries for Him to, “Wash me! Cleanse me! I can’t do this by myself!” are a good indication that He is.
My grandchildren love to run around barefoot. By the end of the day, the soles of their little feet are so dirty, but they want to jump into my bed. I will say, “Let me see your feet.” Most of the time they need washing, so I scoop them up, set them on the bathroom counter with their feet in the sink, and run water until it is nice and warm. I get the soap into a sudsy lather and run my hands slowly under the soles of their feet, between each of their little toes. After rinsing and drying off with a towel they’re ready to jump in bed.
Every time I do this, I think of when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.
“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end . . . so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with a towel wrapped around Him” (John 13:1, 4-5 NIV).
He entered into this messy world two thousand years ago to redeem it. He entered into the mess of the manger. Jesus entered into the mess of our lives and He washed us clean. That is the work He began.
Jesus came to clean my mess, and your mess, because we couldn’t do it ourselves.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary reminds me, “It is not humility, but unbelief, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us, or too good news to be true. All those, and those only, who are spiritually washed by Christ, have a part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, He justifies and sanctifies.”
That is good news. So before we have to attack that next mess, let’s rest in that awhile.