One Great Mess

There’s art. And then there’s messy art. But there’s beauty in a mess, no? There’s beauty in twists and turns like musical runs and riffs. And sorry but we haven’t gotten quite accustomed to straight lines and perfect drawn-with-a-compass-type curves.

God’s design is not straight. Wake up in the morning and take off your clothes. Look at the contours on your body. The parts that cave in, the parts that jut out. The parts that bend, curved, round, proportional and then not so proportional. Our bodies are not built with Lego bricks, boxy and three dimensional with sharp edges, systematically placed one on top of the other so that they may be disintegrated with ease. No. Our biological system is first of all, fueled by blood that runs through veins that squeeze and fit through every niche, they’re huge and then small. The human brain looks like an undignified mass of flesh, no clear distinction of its parts from an outward perspective. The organs that make up the different systems within us have various shapes and sizes and are placed around in a not so organized manner. The intestines intertwine with each other and we can’t so easily make out large from small.

So the day the spirit of God falls on men and becomes available to all flesh, these one hundred and twenty men do not become more organized and straightened up. They begin to speak in languages they do not understand themselves. Gone is the oneness of language and people. Now here is a more powerful force that binds together differences by introducing differences. They babble in tongues and tongues of fire appear on their heads. What is the fire destroying? Their nervous, anxious, fearful, careful planning and organization. The Spirit will now empower them, to speak as He gives them utterance and to be sent where He wills. So Phillip finds himself suddenly close by to the chariot of an Ethiopian eunuch. So Paul finds himself in Rome after a tortuous journey, speaking to the roman emperor. Did they plan these embarkments? 

Here’s another mess. The will of God. The mystery-filled mess of the life of the called. First is the call, the ministry, the work itself. How does picking crumbs of bread, playing with children, visiting widows, healing the sick and breaking bread and drinking wine all sum to a perfect picture? It doesn’t. The life of the disciples involved simply following Christ. Sometimes it meant trekking up a mountain and seeing Moses and Elijah (and getting so confused that you want to just stay there! Like yaaasss let’s build tents! What could be better than that?) but other times it’s going across on a stormy sea while the Master sleeps.

Then, there comes the choosing of a life partner which we must, like Abraham did for Isaac, be so careful about. It doesn’t seem to come so easy to all of us because you know now we’ve had several partners and life is moving on but still no life partner? And we’re in a bit of a fix because we don’t have one option but several and how do we know which path to take? And how are we so sure that we haven’t missed the right path already and that we should leave the past to stay as past? And how do we know time will be on our sides and that we must do such and such at such and such time? And what about when no one, and absolutely no one has approached us? What then?

The call of God is much more like a roller coaster than a train ride. It’s more ups and downs and highs and lows than just a smooth stop here and there. There are jerky stops. And sometimes you’re literally riding upside down but trust that you won’t fall out of your seat. Trust that it is possible to stay buckled in. Trust that He knows the plans He has for us. Trust that He’s the one driving.

Where is the solace? Where lies the comfort in this great mess of a call of God? “Let it be done in order, for God is not the author of confusion.” Is the call of God a call to confusion? No. It is a call that contains order. And order will come from perceiving seasons. Jesus said to use signs to tell the times we’re in. Sure it is not straightforward, and today you’re in this state and then tomorrow you’re in another but they’re all seasons. The wise thing is to know and accept when change has come and walk into your season. And suddenly the different events and places and faces don’t seem so messy after all, they’re rolling over, and now they’re changing everything around because after all, they’re seasons.

When a river flows, it breaks out everywhere and anywhere it likes. It likes to spread. It likes to be a mess. And when rivers of living water are flowing out of your belly, I’d assume that your life takes on a similar path. It is no longer step by step and perfectly strategic the way you thought things would turn out. But those that are born of the spirit, they are blown by the wind. They are tossed here and there; they experience heartbreaks.

The heartbreak. The deep chasm. The near-death split. The never-ending flashes of memories. The close-cut reminders. The lengthy memoirs. The marriage in the night. The flippant decisions. The slip-ups. The confusion. The silences. The pain. Unfortunately it’s a part of the ride.

But there is hope. There is hope because eye hath not seen and neither hath ear heard the things God has in store for those that love him. There is hope that we’ll be blown back into love. There is hope that our shepherd will lead us to paths of righteousness for His name sake. There is hope that the valley becomes a hill once we’ve walked to the end of it. And we will ascend the hill of the Lord. All I’m saying is let’s embrace the rhythms of grace– the scribble-scratch, the doodles, the zig-zags and the hybrids (heaven is full of hybrids) and do away with unrealistic perfectionist calligraphy. The Lord is on high. So keep your head up. Don’t stay low where your feelings are. Lift up your eyes. Help is coming.  It’s a matter of time. It’ll soon be your season.

 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? Ecclesiastes 7:13



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