This usually happens to me between 4:00pm to 5:00pm when my last toddler-age grandson is just about to be picked up from a day of adventure, play, laughing, lunch, a nap and more. The house is in a bit of disarray. A few of the kitchen cabinets are open (the safe ones) where the plastic and metal measuring cups are scattered over the kitchen floor from the joy of fitting them together and using them as drums over a plastic mixing bowl. The glass in the doors to the back yard are smeared with little finger and mouth prints as the boys are trying to get the dog’s attention. The baskets and little books in the living room have been dropped far from their original decorative place, discarded for something more interesting. There is a TV/DVD player remote and Wii controller in the hallway, one in the couch, another on the floor of the office, all from one particular grandson who just has to have something in his hands at all times. He starts with the remotes/controller and exchanges them, on the spot, for something else he enjoys in his precious little hand. Oh yes, and the toy basket, well, it looks like it erupted in the family room with the toy flow pushing throughout the house. If you were to look at it you might say, ‘wow, what a mess!’
Now sure, we start singing the clean-up song and get much of the ‘mess’ back in order before they head home, but the mess was not a wasteful or destructive mess, but more of a blessed mess of two little boys having some crazy fun with their Papa. It’s not that the only fun is messy fun or that fun can’t be neat or orderly. The truth is there are unpleasant realities to all that we do; fun, recreation, relationship, or productive work. Play requires clean up, relationships experience conflict (that’s how we grow), work has with it tasks that are difficult and hard.
In thinking of the mess and the good things that naturally come with it, a proverb from the Bible came to mind…
Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
Another translation put it this way…
NLT Proverbs 14:4 Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.
In other words, the mess of using ox to till and work the fields will mean there will an unpleasant (and smelly) mess to deal with. Sure the stable are clean if there are no oxen, but that also means little or no work is happening. It’s the same with relationships; friends fight, couples argue, team mates clash, siblings squabble. But as another Bible proverb says…
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Like the friction of two knives used to sharpen each other, two people through the mess of a conflict can actually sharpen each other. Now that takes a lot of humility and love and more than we can talk about now, but relationships are, at times, messy and that mess is a blessing because it means growth and sharpening are happening.
It’s not that we need to be a mess or live with a messy stable, but at times a little mess is ok and actually a blessing. A blessing that even makes the mess a bit of a joy to clean up. How sad if a toy never gets worn or a house never gets used or a relationship never goes deep or a job never gets challenging or schedules never get interrupted. Maybe the mess you are experiencing is really a blessing of a life well lived, an abundance that has with it the normal natural mess, like ox in the barn.
Another messy place is the church. Yep, an imperfect group of people seeking to know God and live for God, and it’s messy. Some feel you need to be better or mess-less to attend. It’s just not true. Church is a just the kind of place where we can get encouraged, challenged, inspired to deal with not only life’s messes but also life’s difficulties. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us. You might even find a few blessed messes as we have a lot of fun in and around our building.
Enjoying taking care of the blessed messes of life along with you,