Monday, April 29, 2013

Messy Monday: The Blog Post That (Almost) Didn't Happen

Ok, I thought I was going to write tonight.

And now I'm thinking not so much...

You see, my 7 year old is desperate for some cool air on the warmest night of the year thus far- seriously it's about 74 degrees in the house. She's overtired.

There's a baby wailing in her crib- she's overtired.

And there's a 3 year old who refuses to get off the toilet to get to the toilet paper. She "needs" me to do it and she's going to cry until I rush in and accomplish the task that she manages to do by herself 20 times every day. She's overtired... And she might be there a while. (No seriously, I just told her that she's going to have to go to sleep on the potty then. That was some motivation for her.)

I pray, Dear Jesus, please let the boy be asleep.

I was going to tell you all about smudges. About how it wouldn't take a CSI task force to figure out who has been where in this place. In just the right light you can see everything. I even took a nifty picture of our pantry door to illustrate the point for you.

(Just a note: that picture won't be with us today. It would take some sort of artistic effort and... I'm overtired.)

So let's use our imaginations and just pretend that we've seen some door in our homes covered with some rather unique fingerprints. Oil residues. Smudges.

Would it take a CSI task force to figure out who's been where in this heart of mine today? I hope not. And I'm not making this piece about the law either. Who's been smudging up your life, Satan or the Lord?

I can tell you with absolute certainty that if your day in any way resembled mine, you were short-tempered, irrational, annoyed, slow to listen and quick to speak, and then some. But take a moment and realize something: those weren't your smudges on an otherwise perfect day that God had planned for you. He didn't have everything in place, only to have your bad attitude ruin His handiwork.

It is that perfect, ideal world that we have built into our head, where we have the courage, strength, and stamina to juggle all the day's tasks with all the grace of circus performer (our lives are circuses sometimes, no?), and all on our own, with no need for forgiveness and humility. I don't know- is that what you think God has planned for any of us?

Not to imply that grace and charm and maybe just fifteen words out of my mouth that flowed from love and generosity wouldn't have been nice today, but when my goal is to perform up to my standards, and when my inevitable collapse is so... dramatic, maybe I should take a step back, adjust the light, and see if perhaps all this smudging of my plans bears a familiar fingerprint.

You probably knew this, but smudging is also an artistic technique that can add many things to a piece, one of which being a more realistic depth.

So I get to thinking, what if this stick figure portrait of myself, my life, needs a bit more depth, and the only way that can happen is if the Artist dips His finger into my frail dust and "messes" with the lines I had drawn so clearly?

What if it were possible to look at the door to my heart and see His fingerprints as clearly as I do my own children's on our pantry door?

What if all this planning to get out of the house, to get the errands done, to get the laundry washed, to write- what if God adds depth to it all by sticking His hand directly into my happenings and molding, smudging, downright smearing my Old Adam wisdom until it looks less and less like a stick figure and more and more like a real woman.

Less and less like a check mark, and more and more like a cross.

Less and less like a house, and more and more like an empty tomb.

Then those thwarted plans, temporary annoyances, smudges on my porcelain itinerary, they become opportunities for grace. Real grace. Not the kind that I fantasize I have earned through my winning personality and stellar supper menu.

The grace that is in the trenches. Always increasing. Always enveloping. Always abiding. Always active.

Grace on a mission, because my life is a mission field. 

Well in that case, smudge away, Lord.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11