Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Mess, His Message

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
~ Isaiah 61:1-3, NKJV ~

The summer heat beats through the rotting wood framed window pains into our living room, subject to the relentless southern exposure. I rush around edgy, in a hurry to get every element handled, every nook and cranny cleaned before our guests arrive. My attitude is as oppressive as the stifling air prior to our garden party. I have been invited to old, affluent lake homes in this area before, entertained in beautiful simplicity by the wealthy women whose attention to detail makes those visiting feel pampered. I am determined to entertain my guests that way, despite our meager financial position. 

Although he stays largely silent, I know my pressing perfection drives my husband crazy. "We men just show up with a bag of potato chips and a six pack, and we have more fun than you ladies," he teases. He's not necessarily wrong.

Eventually, my children and their diagnoses set me free from that level of obsession, or rather, they improve my priorities. When a parent is focused on merely keeping their child alive, dust bunnies suddenly don't matter quite as much. Hospitals win out over hospitality. 

Back in the days where I fretted over having my house immaculate for my guests or preparing them food from the latest upscale magazine, I never could have imagined my imperfections would hold infinite value. My shortcomings, so I thought, only yielded humiliation and shame. 

It took a son with a severe bleeding disorder for me to finally realize that people were coming to see me, not my house. And those who did judge me had no concept of what my daily challenges looked like. They weren't rushing to the emergency room or Children's hospital three times per week at unpredictable times. Their children weren't running up medication bills of over $200,000 per year.

Many of the heartaches under my own roof -- joblessness, children with serious chronic diagnoses, and resulting poverty -- seemed like people's worst nightmares. By the world's standards, I lived in utter ruin. 

But God... Two of the most powerful words in the Bible. Yes, God's glory shone through the cracks of my ruined life. My mess became the conduit for His message: "I Am your Hope in spite of Hopelessness;" "I love you infinitely;" "There is so much more than what you see;" "I can use any situation for your good and My glory."

Suddenly, it has become so much less about my brokenness and far more about His whispers in a world of chaos. I have lost count of the number of times people look at me and marvel that I still laugh despite all that my family faces. While I may be mocked or dismissed because of my faith, I am the one that people come to when their life is in dire straits for prayer and a listening ear. 

As one of my friends so aptly puts it, 
"If the world sees a redeemed life, they just may believe there is a Redeemer."

I am His ambassador. He tells me that in His word. But even more now, I have become a living story... His story... of hope, of value, of love. Though the world never relents in its darkness, His divine spark lightens souls with every hug of compassion and understanding I am able to share. I wouldn't have those hugs to give had I not faced the endless trials in my life. The messier my life has become, the more His glory has shown through, because it is so obvious that there is no way I could be upright and laughing without His work in me.

Yes, there is a Redeemer, and my mess is His message.

PRAY:  Jesus, You alone can create something beautiful from our ugly situations and lives. There is no other god who can work in such miraculous ways. When the world sees me, let them see nothing but Your beauty shining through. 


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