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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Perfect Mess

I am a little bit of a neat freak.

In my house, everything has a place, and it better be in that place if it’s not in use.  On the upside, I rarely lose anything.  On the downside, I spend a lot of time straightening up, organizing, and putting stuff away.

You may also be a neat freak if you know the difference between straightening up, organizing, and putting away.

I kind of can’t relax until everything has a place.  I rarely start projects I can’t finish right away, because I don’t want to deal with the mess of a work in progress.  If I do happen to start something and it doesn’t get finished, I put it away, likely never to be restarted for weeks.

Or years, as was the case of the special painting project that I intended for the entry of our house and never got off the ground.  I bought all the stuff and put it away just long enough that my desired result went out of style before I even got the materials out of the closet.

I drive my family crazy.  It’s hard having a neat freak wife if you’re a slob who prefers to get dressed out of piles of folded up laundry on the floor.  It’s hard to be the child of a neat freak if you hoard things like yo-yo strings and tags from clothing, vending machine junk and ticket stubs.

It’s also hard being a neat freak if the people you live with are slobs and hoarders. 
I wonder if God is a neat freak.  He seems to have a high tolerance for messes.  Look what we do in the world that he made.  People fighting all over the place and doing untold horrors to each other.  All the beauty that we have stripped from his creation.  What a mess.

He loves each of us completely even though some of us love him back and some fight against his love, and still others don’t know him yet.  He answers all prayers individually according to what a person needs to see and hear, instead of giving the same answer to the same prayer over and over.  He makes things happen in the world that no one even knows about.  If God was a neat freak I would imagine he’d fix up everything immediately and only love those who love him, and his every move would be predictable.

However, God is not defined in our terms.  His puzzle, though we cannot solve it, contains no missing pieces.  He knows what has been, what is, and what is coming.  His Creation is not a mess, it is perfect.  I can’t see it because I am too mired in the mess I see.  

God puts up with our messes with grace and perfect patience; no pile of clutter is too big for him.  To him, we are always in the right spot, exactly where he wants us to be.  Our job is to trust his arrangement, that everything has its place.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me more peace than any straightening up I could do.

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He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

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