This is a common response in our household when I correct one of my children--rather than accepting responsibility, they're quick to blame someone else for their failure.
I understand this tendency—I don't think anyone particularly enjoys admitting they were wrong. Having to confront our failures and inadequacies can be difficult and ignoring them or sweeping them under the carpet can feel easier—at least initially. I've learned the hard way that what we try to cover up festers, but what we allow God to cover over is transformed.
In Acts 3, Peter exhorted those who had just witnessed him and John heal a crippled man to, "Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (v. 19, NASB).
Repentance. It's not the most popular of words or concepts yet without it, we are robbed of God's refreshing presence. Sin cannot go unchecked—the dirt and mess of our lives obstruct the flow of His Living Water in our lives and we find ourselves dry and empty. Yes, repentance and refreshing go hand-in-hand.
Repentance itself simply means to change one's mind [for the better]; heartily to amend with the abhorrence of one's past sin. In order to change our minds, we have to first acknowledge that something is broken and that there is a better way--God's way. Our salvation begins with repentance, and our sanctification—the process of becoming like Christ—requires us to keep allowing God to change our thinking. Repentance is not an isolated event but a lifestyle that we are called to embrace.
There is a lightness that enters our hearts when we keep short accounts with God; when we allow Him to correct us and to wipe our sin away.
As we begin a new week, let us allow God to cleanse us of the grime of the old one. Let us tarry in His presence and allow Him to examine our hearts and show us a better way—a refreshing way.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Life isn’t like a book. Life isn’t logical or sensible or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time. And theology must be lived in the midst of that mess – Charles C. Colton
It is one of those days that will be forever etched into my memory. I had gone upstairs to discover that my then four-year-old had had a silent tantrum and in mere minutes, destroyed the room she shared with her sister.
The mess struck a chord with me. It felt like a metaphor for my life. Five months earlier, my life had been mostly neat and tidy and I had felt relatively in control. Circumstances had since ripped this façade away from me, exposing the shadowy mess that had been lurking in the depths of my heart.
As I spent the next hour sorting and returning everything to its rightful place, God reminded me that mess is not always bad. It can compel us to clean-up, to get rid of rubbish and re-arrange what we have decided to keep. And as we sort through the mess, we ultimately discover truth.
In John 8:32, Jesus said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” While the journey of unveiling truth is seldom neat, tidy or predictable, when we find it, it ultimately brings us freedom. I had been fighting against anything that exposed my weaknesses or left me vulnerable, and the result was a curated life on the outside that was not replicated on the inside. Inside I was stuck in a cage of perfectionist control and keeping up appearances.
But God is not afraid of mess and His heart is to move us from the outward appearance of goodness and wholeness to that being our actual internal reality. He wants to set us free.
I threw some pretty epic tantrums myself in that season, and as God helped me to clean up the aftermath, I realised my own need for a Saviour; for the One who is THE TRUTH, whose grace is enough, who is strong when I am weak and who loves me completely - even on the days when it is all a mess. And the truth of my need was the doorway to wholeness and freedom.
If you are in a messy season, can I encourage you today not to fear it. Instead, partner with God to clean it up. Let Him shine His light and love into the depths of your heart and set you free.