When I first discovered the iPhone app called “A Beautiful Mess”, the title struck an instant chord with me. You may ask how something messy could be beautiful. Most of our lives, we spend time and effort avoiding messes, getting spots out, trying to appear neat, tidy and organized. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s and always look the part.
Before we know it, we find “peace” when things are beautiful, ironed, neat, and pristine. When we have company over, we attempt to clean our house in such a way that it looks like no one lives there. We send Christmas photos to our friends making sure our family looks stunning with every hair in place, every smile polished; the quintessential picture of perfection. We send our family picture with a carefully crafted letter and hope the receiver thinks, “Wow, What a beautiful family! Their life must be perfect with no mess at all.”
All the while, the photo never shows the argument you had with your husband on the way to the photography session or the tantrum your child had moments before. The letter shares all the highs of the year, the good grades, the family trips, the promotions. While it is all good, wonderful and true, it is only a small part of the story of the past year.
Life is filled with messes that are unplanned, unorganized and uncomfortable. We get uptight, thrown off course (Well, at least I do). Our boats get rocked and when life gets messy, we feel like God has forgotten us. Instead of approaching messes with resentment and stress, what if we looked for the beauty in life’s most chaotic state. What if our Christmas letters and social media posts showed the mess and described the beauty of Christ grabbing us by the hand and rescuing us from all hell breaking loose. What if we found the beauty in the fact that we are still standing, still alive, still persevering after all the messes we have been through?
As I was processing and praying over finding the beauty in life's messes both big and small, I found the perfect example in the Bible. John describes the brutal way in which our Lord and Savior was crucified on the cross. Beaten and bruised. Messy. Painful. Dark.
John 19:2-3 NLT
"The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face."
This is so painful to read. He was innocent. He didn't deserve this.
But even in this story, our story, a ray of sun shines in the dark.
The beauty found in the crucifixion mess is an empty tomb; eternal life, healing, redemption, and wholeness. A Beautiful Mess.
The sacrifice God made by giving his only son for us so that we could have eternal life. A Beautiful Mess.
Naaman the distinguished commander of an army suffered from leprosy. A young girl tells him to see the prophet for healing. Naaman assumes he will be healed in beautiful waters because it ‘makes sense’. The prophet tells Naaman to go to dip in the Jordan River. Naaman is a ‘V.I.P’ and is disgusted and offended that he is told to go into the unclean “messy” waters of the Jordan River to turn his horrible skin condition around.
2 Kings 5:12 NLT
"Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage."
As we read on, Naaman became healed of leprosy in the “messy” water. He found beauty in the mess. Naaman almost missed out on his healing because he couldn't see the opportunity or potential in the messy Jordan River.
A Beautiful Mess.
2 Kings 5:14 NLT
So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
I wonder what hidden holy beauty lies dormant in the middle of our messes. I wonder what miracles are like ripe fruit from a tree ready to fall into our lives if we just look for it. Life can be a mess. We can't escape it. But what we can do is look for the beauty, grace and strength to face every mess with a fresh perspective. I'm not saying messes are from God or that we must enjoy the mess. I'm saying to look for Jesus in your mess. He is willing to get in the mess with us.
Holy Spirit, please illuminate our eyes to look for YOU the true beauty that can be found in every mess. Thank You that You are faithful to help us bear fruit in times of abundance and even in the wilderness.