As I am writing this I am sitting at our dining room table while my wife is making a real mess. She is removing a border from our wall that has been up for about 15 years and obviously had very good glue. The project involves making slits in the paper though it’s vinyl coating, wetting it down with a vinegar solution, and then a lot of scraping with a putty knife. The room looks worse that when she started! That is the way most improvement projects go. A new house starts by digging up a nice lot and turning it into a muddy mess. An old house may need the plaster and lathe torn off for new wiring, plumbing insulation, and drywall. It’s almost impossible to cook an elaborate meal without turning a kitchen into a mess.
Many things don’t happen because we decide they aren’t worth making a mess to do. We have all had projects we started and then about halfway through began to question our own sanity. I recently had to replace the gasket in the oil pump on my old Camry. A simple part, but what a mess to get to it! When I had parts all over the place I was asking myself why I thought the old car was even worth fixing. Nice to have it running again, but for a while I wasn’t sure.
Relationships can be a lot like that. It is hard to make new ones and sometimes even harder to improve old ones. Many of us are way outside our comfort zone making small talk and then allowing someone else we don’t know all that well learn about us. Will they accept or reject us? Will they understand our struggles or simply look down on our weaknesses? Will they build us up or tear us down? It can get messy and part way through we may think that it was a really bad idea to try.
Repairing or improving old relationships can be equally difficult. Some things have to be brought up that we would just like to leave alone. It may be time to recognize that we have held on to hurts and pain way too long. We may have to let go of cherished dreams so we can focus on reality. Just like home renovation it is messy and it may cost us a lot! That’s why many rooms are never rejuvenated and many broken or damaged relationships are not renewed.
Even as I think about those human relationships, I am amazed at the relationship God has chosen to have with me. Broken and scarred from my sin and rebellion, dead to the core, what about me would make a mess worthwhile? And what a mess it would be! It involved him sending his son to come, take on humanity, live a perfect exemplary life overcoming temptation, die on a cross and come out of a grave. It involved his Holy Spirit indwelling this sinful creature and continuing day by day to deal with my failures and set-backs. It involves him dealing with a horrible mess because he envisions what I will look like when he is done molding me into the image of his Son.
Christy is taking a break but she isn’t giving up. This room will not be ready to paint today, but she is determined to see the project through because of what she wants this room to be like. In a similar, but much grander scale, our Lord will not stop halfway. I love that verse that says: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV) I may not look like much right now – but wait until he gets done with me! Ask him to do the same with you. It will get messy, but it will end wonderfully.