Life sure can be messy, can’t it? My kids find themselves in all kinds of scrapes every single day. Sometimes you’re stuck under a picnic table or in a pot. Sometimes you fall and get a boo-boo. Sometimes you spill cereal or throw tissues all over the house. Little messes, in the big picture.
But sometimes the messes in life are much bigger and can’t be cleaned up with a vacuum, paper towels, or a bandaid. Sometimes the messes are little, but sometimes they are big. I’m not sure which category today’s mess falls into, in the grand scheme, probably little. Although this morning it did not feel, or smell, like a little mess. Messes can be that way. They can feel pretty big when we’re in them.
There I was minding my own business (probably the instigation of the mess), fixing some breakfast. My children, I thought, were happily playing in the living room, dressed, fed, and needs met. Suddenly, my three-year-old daughter comes into the kitchen, crying. My first guess is a fight over a toy. This happens so frequently that I’m considering purchasing a referee’s outfit.
But then she holds up her hands.
“Sophie, what is on your hands, honey?”
And then the aroma hits me. It’s poo. She’s got poo all over her hands. Fabulous. Breakfast forgotten, comforts aside, my gears shift as I begin to clean her up.
Sophie made a mess, and she did not know how to get herself out of it. Thankfully she hadn’t tried wiping her hands on the carpet or the couch as we do with the grass when our hands get messy outside. She knew that this mess was going to need some assistance from mommy. Amazingly, I wasn’t mad at her. Maybe her tears softened my heart. She was so upset about what she had done, that all I could feel was compassion as I cleaned her up.
We’ve been talking in church lately about how life can be so messy. We’re all a bunch of sinners down here. Our lives are messy, no matter how much we try to control or hide the mess. Yet, in the midst of our mess, there is One who loves us so very much. When we come crying to him, the dirt of our mess all over our hands, unable to help ourselves, his grace floods our lives, and he takes care of us. No, Jesus is not just a boo-boo fixer. It’s not as though we should just continue making mess after mess because we know he’ll be there to clean us up. But, as I felt so much compassion this morning for my daughter, I was reminded that, while our messes do have consequences, God is not angry with us when we come to him in a mess. He’s not thundering down at us. When we come crying to him, he opens his arms with a love and compassion that are deep and genuine. He knows that we make messes, and he’s not inconvenienced when we come to him. Rather, he made a way, he sent his son Jesus to cover that mess. No amount of my own trying can ever get rid of my mess, but Jesus’ blood, it can cover any mess. He is the one who washes my soul.
Why do we try to hide our messes from God and from each other? Each of us is equally broken, equally sinful. Why do we thunder down judgment on each other for the messes we inevitably will make? Where is grace in this world? What if we quit trying to hide our messes and lived out a genuine life before our family, friends, co-workers? It’s not as though hiding my mess makes it any less real. And if, in showing it to others, I can also show them the love and grace of Jesus which covers my sin, then maybe they can know that his grace covers their life too. No matter what their mess is, it’s not bigger than his sacrifice.