One of my favorite songs in high school was Frail by Jars of Clay. It’s a haunting song, but lately it’s the lyrics that have been haunting for me, not the sound.
My favorite lyrics have always been the last verse which say:
Exposed beyond the shadows
You take the cup from me
Your dirt removes my blindness
Your pain becomes my peace
The song has always resonated with me because of it’s comfort with recognizing human frailty and failure. While I have loved and pursued God for most of my life, it rarely looks pretty and put together.
As I’ve been finishing some of my final edits to the book manuscript the past few weeks I’ve been camping a lot on the idea that God makes a masterpiece out of our mess. It’s my experience that the model Christian always has his or her life put together in an immaculate way. And my frustration with that is my life never seems to be match up. I tend to always feel inferior to the “Godly” people around me. They seem to have perfected this whole faith and life thing a lot better than me.
The model Christian often presented and placed on a pedestal never seems to have a messy closet. The dishes in their kitchen aren’t stacked up in the sink. They have don’t have huge piles of laundry beside their bed. Their hearts seem to rise and set with motivations to love and pursue Jesus. Their stories of struggle always end on a positive note.
It’s all disconnected from my life and my mess. I’m continually drawn toward the things of the flesh, or the sins that can easily entangle my life. I always find ways to remove Jesus and my love for him away from the center of my life to focus on empty and fleeting things.
I love what Mandy Steward says about our messes in her book Messy Canvas. Our lives are about “believing in a Master Artist who created redemption and loves us so much that He paints over our imperfection with His perfection. It is seeing the real, the mess, in light of the ideal, and so transfiguring it. It is accepting mess and then challenging it to become something more” (page 38).
We have a Savior “whose dirt removes our blindness.” He is for us. He loves us enough to not only see past our failures, our mess, our sin, but He loves us enough to transform us in the midst of it. He extends His hand to us in the darkest hours of our lives. Through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus, we see that God cared enough about us to enter into the mess of our lives.
The model Christian is not the perfectly tidy man or woman. The model Christian is one who continually seeks after Him in the midst of mess, wading through the murky and muddy waters of life scouting after the divine. It’s this process that makes something beautiful.