Why is it that when a person surrenders their life to Jesus, we no longer expect messy? We expect them to act like an appropriate christian should, cleaning up any mess in their lives and for crying out loud, stay clean. Except that it doesn't always work like that. New christians are like babies, messy and unpredictable. I know, i used to be one. I accused a friend of harboring the devil under her cabinet because she hid alcohol for her brother so he wouldn't drink at bars and kill himself driving home. She hung up the phone weeping while i wondered how it was possible to be so blind. I also told people that unless they changed their ways they were on a fast track to the bad place. All good points but said in a very messy way. Which brings me to another thought. Why do i expect my older children to act like mature believers when not only are the young christians, they are still YOUNG??
And why is it that we don't expect serving Jesus to be messy? Who did Jesus say He came to save? The nice, clean, church going crowd? Or the prostitutes, the liars, the thieves, the broken? I find myself hiding from the messy people because i might get, look, or act in a way that other people think is messy and ridiculous.
I grew up in a conservative mennonite culture that had a lot of good points. Good work ethics, high moral integrity, scrupulous obedience to scripture......but messy wasn't appreciated. Our lives were to be lived in an orderly fashion, dotted along the way with handing out tracts and turning the other cheek. The only problem was, people from the "outside" sometimes strayed into our circles that were quite messy and eventually, they usually strayed back out. We comforted ourselves by saying only a few can manage the straight and narrow, but now i wonder if perhaps it was more because we couldn't handle getting messy. They were expected to act, think, and dress a certain way and when it didn't happen, we blamed it on their messiness and not so much on our lack of grace and compassion. Don't get me wrong. There were many wonderful, godly, loving people in my growing up years. This is not a lash out at my church group growing up but as Marlin and i have grown spiritually over the years, we have noticed that the more sold out a person is for Jesus, the more it seems He leads them to reach the unloved and unlovable. In short, He expects them to get their hands dirty.
For example, we have friends who have a family of six children. Young children. You would think they have a quiver full, at least for the moment. Altho i wouldn't take my word for it since it seems our own quiver keeps expanding. But instead, this family is praying about adopting a little boy from China. A little boy who was abandoned outside a factory, most likely because he had hydrocephaly. As we sat and talked recently, i was totally challenged and excited to hear their hearts and why they are seriously praying about this. They're not naive, and they know it could be very, very hard. In short, she put it exactly right when she said it will be messy. And it was then that a light bulb came off in my head.
It's messy that Jesus is so often wanting us to serve and it's messy that so many times i run from. Messy is hard and puts us outside our comfort zone. Messy might make us look bad, or maybe stupid, which is almost as embarrassing. Messy can be very expensive and it certainly doesn't guarantee a comfortable life or a fat bank account.
Not everyone is going to be called to adoption. As of now we haven't. Maybe because it feels like we have all the messiness i can handle right now within our four walls. On the other hand, its not for me to say no to messy if it's Jesus calling us. I can point out a few times in our lives when we obeyed Jesus and it became VERY messy, and as long as we stay surrendered (completely!) i have no doubt there is more of that in our future.
But whatever you do, don't embrace messy unless you have embraced Jesus first. Trying to serve messy without Jesus in control is disaster and will bring heartache and bitterness. You will need His strength, His wisdom, and especially His love and compassion. But whatever you do, don't try to keep your hands from getting messy. Get out there, tell Jesus you're willing to do whatever, however as long as He is in control, and prepare for the ride. Wherever Jesus is, there's bound to be messy because that's who He came to save and who else to serve them but those of us who have seen our own messiness without Him.