Beautiful Mess

May 31, 2018

These flowers are growing in my flower bed. I planted them a few seasons ago because my Sweetie loves daisies. I do too now. They’re very resilient and remarkably hearty.

I planted daisies so my wife would see them day after day and know that I love her.

But there are other less intentional results of planting daisies.

I see them and remember why I planted them. I see them in the winter time when everything is brown and dormant and I pull the old dead stuff away. I see them begin to come back each spring with those dark green leaves peaking through the mulch. I see them spread out and fill out and produce those little buds. I see the first flowers and know that there are many more to come.

But sometimes I just see the grass that I can’t seem to get to grow 3 feet away on the other side of the sidewalk and yet somehow thrives in the midst of the daisies. Sometimes I see that annoying nutgrass stalk that, if I pull it out, will somehow multiply and spread even more. Sometimes I see the dead leaves that I didn’t manage to get cleaned out of the flower bed very effectively.

When I look at the various parts of my life, I am beginning to realize that I tend to see the weeds instead of the flowers. I see the messes I’ve made and completely overlook the beauty in the midst of the mess.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we shouldn’t pull weeds or clean the flower beds. But I’ve walked this earth long enough to know that there will always be more mess. But the inevitable mess grows like weeds from the same rich soil that yields the flowers.

What I’m getting at is that the mess is just a part of this world. The wonder of it all is that so much beauty can grow in the middle of the mess.

I probably don’t have to try very hard to convince you that this world is full of brokenness—mess. But I also don’t have to try too hard to convince you that there is so very much beauty right in the middle of the brokenness.

Yesterday I conducted a funeral service for a very dear, sweet lady who was a very faithful follower of Jesus and tremendous prayer warrior. That loss hurts for many of us. But the joy of the memories we shared with her and even the sharing of those memories together was genuinely sweet.

Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive experiences. In fact, I believe most joys have a tinge of sorrow—someone we long to have share them that is not able to do so, something that we know would make it so much sweeter. And most sorrows have tinges of joy if we’re willing to see and acknowledge them—having been loved well, having experienced something precious to lose.

I think that our brother James so long ago was challenging us to train our eyes on the joys among the struggles when he wrote these words:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the steadfastness of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1.2-3)

Look for the joy amidst the sorrows, the flowers among the weeds, the beauty in the mess. It doesn’t take away the sorrow or the weeds or the mess. But it does produce a healthy dissatisfaction with what is and a deep longing for what is to come.

And I believe that, the more we long for what will be, the more we will strive to make the mess more beautiful here and now.

Look at the picture again. Don’t ignore the mess. But see the beauty.

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Continuous Rinse

October 14, 2017

Stuff gets dirty. It’s inevitable. It’s a fact of life.

And it seems sometimes that, the more I get involved with people, the more messy it can get to serve and love and care for through the reality of this jacked up life.

It seems to me that you don’t walk with someone through addiction with genuine compassion without any temptation to the addiction – whether in the same issues or in alternate equivalents.

And even if it’s not the stuff you’re trying to help others deal with, the world is really like a cesspool of swirling mess. Unless you never look at people, you will see stuff and hear stuff and even touch stuff that is not good for your spiritual condition. It is inevitable.

But what do we do about it? Were the monks onto something when they moved off to the wilderness to close themselves off from society? Are we supposed to so insulate ourselves from the wickedness of society that we cannot be polluted by it?

Perhaps…

But wait…manipulation and fear and greed and perversion seem to be just as present in the isolationist cultures as they are in the world at large. What are we to do?

It’s a lot simpler than I think we may realize.

David taught us in his beautiful acrostic poem, Psalm 119, with a simple question and an even simpler answer:

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to [God’s] word. (Ps. 119.9)

Maybe it’s time as followers of Jesus to deliberately increase our intake of God’s Word. It’s kind of funny (in a sad sort of way) that we wonder why we have a hard time figuring out what God is trying to tell us but we don’t have a steady diet of God’s Word. In fact, if we’re honest, we take in so much other stuff that we

In other words, it’s time to step into a continuous rinse of our lives by the power of the Scriptures.

How can you do that today? How can you stay under the stream that helps rinse away the inevitable crud of this world?

Maybe it’s as simple as listening to Scripture as you drive or choosing a passage to meditate on and memorize and looking back over it every hour. Maybe it’s as simple as setting a reminder on your phone to pause at regular intervals to take a bite of the Word.

The world is messy. We need a continuous rinse.

Cherished Discomfort

September 28, 2017

I had to throw on a hoodie to sit on the porch this morning.

The air is cool and breezy, cool enough that I had to have a soft, warm wrapper.

Hoodies rock! (Especially this bright one I bought at the Cannon Beach Surf Shop!)

It’s just a little too cool to sit here without it. It’s a delightful thing, isn’t it? I’ve noticed many folks on social media decrying the temperatures hanging in the nineties even though the calendar tells us it is fall. Many have been longing for that first real break in the heat that tells us fall is really here. And now we have it. Read the rest of this entry »