Everyone talks about God being a God of miracles. A God that can move mountains and make the impossible, possible. I believe that. I believe God for big things. I believe in miracles. I’m believing God for some pretty big things in my life, and I believe that you should be too.
I have to be honest. I look around at my life right now and the piles of messy circumstances around me and it’s hard to not allow my faith to shrink. From a worldly perspective, there’s nothing that even looks like it may be sprouting into an eventual miracle…it just looks like a bunch of mess. It looks hard, complex, it looks stained with human brokenness, it looks like mess ups and screw ups and anxiety and confusion. It looks like a bunch of stuff I want to vacuum up and throw away. It looks like a bunch of stuff I want to leave in 2018 and never see again because I want to avoid the mess. I want to leave it behind while I confidently walk into 2019 with a clean slate and none of that junk. Feeling good that I avoided hard things that surely can’t be God.
As you can probably guess, I am one who likes to avoid the mess. I assume that if there’s mess involved…it’s not God. Why would God start something beautiful so messy? If it was a miracle from God it would start sparkly and sweet. It would start with wonder and excitement. It would start how I think it should start – which usually involves ease, and comfort, and a clear “why yes, of course, this is how this should go. Makes sense.” I assume others would also be able to look in and say, “ahh, I see what’s happening, that right there makes sense.” And everyone would be happy and full of faith because it all looks nice and it all makes sense. I know I’m not the only one who puts a lot of assumption on how they think God will show up.
This Christmas season God reminded me again and again of some much needed Heavenly perspective for my life, and dang, I’m sure glad for it.
At the Christmas Eve service I went to the Pastor casually drops this line,
“You have a group of people still sitting around waiting for the Messiah to come because He didn’t come in the way they thought He would, He didn’t come and do things how they thought He would, and thousands of years later they’re still waiting for a Messiah to show up and look exactly like they think He should. But He already came, and they’ve missed it.”
DANG. Even still tears well up in my eyes, because for me and my messy life, that’s exactly what I’ve been expecting. That’s when it hit me – when it comes to the way I expect God to show up – religion over relationship rules in my life. How many things have I missed because I didn’t think God would do it like that? How many messy things have I swept aside and controlled because God wouldn’t use that part of my life? He wouldn’t turn that mess into a miracle.
I expect the evidence of God in my life to look a very specific way. I expect the work He’s doing in my life to be clean and not messy. I expect Him to come and do things in a way that makes sense to me. I’m expecting a process that is logical to the world around me. I’m expecting God to show up in the way that I’ve created in my head. And messy certainly is not how I expect God to show up. I’ve created a god in my head, and all the while I’ve put God in a box.
Wrestling with this over the Christmas season has been so beautiful. Because guess what miracle came wrapped looking like the biggest mess? Jesus. The Son of God came into this world in a way that outsiders would look in and go, “Woah, what a mess, surely that can’t be God. Surely a bastard child born to a virgin is not God.” The greatest miracle that ever was came in a way that made Mary, Joseph, and everyone else around them extremely uncomfortable. Explaining that one to extended family at Christmas dinner had to be far worse than we can imagine. A giant mess.
Then to make the mess worse. Mary and Joseph had nowhere to stay so she gave birth to Jesus (GOD) in a dirty barn, and then laid him in a filthy feeding trough. If I was Mary, I’d expect God to provide a little differently. Like excuse me, I’m giving birth to GOD, this was your miracle big guy, can we get me set up in a comfortable, clean, maybe even lavish place? I’d expect the miracle to be born a little bit differently, and certainly not in the middle of this mess.
I’ve been told that God loves to use our brokenness, that He loves to use our weaknesses, that even the biggest mess isn’t too messy for God. In theory, I believed it. I believed God would want to use the past struggles of an addict to help a current addict, but what if God wanted to use the current struggles of an addict to help a current addict. That makes me more uncomfortable. I think I always thought it was more of an, “oh yeah, I struggled with that, I’ve battled with that, but I’ve totally overcome and I’ll help you totally overcome.” But, even the world operates in that way. Even the world would expect breakthrough in that way.
I think God’s more interested in getting in the middle of our mess and making miracles happen. It’s not my job to clean up my mess before God can come in a just add the finishing touches. It’s my job to hand over the mess and let God reign. He can get rid of what He wants, He can keep what he pleases, He can organize, reorder, and redistribute however He sees fit. If I’m trying to take care of the mess before I allow Him in, I may be throwing out things He always wanted to keep.
So as for me and my 2019, I’m not shoving my messes under the rug and pretending they aren’t there, and I’m not going to tirelessly try to control and clean up my messes. I will tirelessly seek relationship with Jesus. It’s not a new year, new me. It’s a new year, same messes, same God. I’m not discounting the messy areas in my life and assuming God won’t totally break in and turn them into miracles. I’m thankful for the mess, because I know that’s exactly where God wants to show up the most.