So you’re a Christian. You’ve come to know that you’re loved by God. The Holy Spirit has arrested your heart and you have been transformed into a new person. But time and time again, you find yourself tangled in a mess, making mistakes and unravelling God’s plan.
If you have been reading my blog, you would notice that we have been discussing the issue of perfectionism amongst Christian culture.
Last night, I was decluttering my house and as I reflected on the situation, I couldn’t help but learn something about our relationship with God.
We are moving house soon, so I have set myself the goal of decluttering one cupboard a day between now and when we move. Allirah is nearly 18 months old and for those of you with kids, you will be aware that from about 9 months old, a child’s favourite thing to do is pull things out of cupboards. Allirah loved it so much that after about 6 months of wading through containers on my kitchen floor, Nic and I ordered 12 cupboard locks online and we haven’t looked back.
But there are some cupboards and sets of draws that don’t have locks. My underwear draw being one of them. You can imagine the state of disarray that they are in from constantly being pulled onto the floor and then quickly chucked back in. I love organised cupboards and categorising items but since having Allirah, anything within her reach has been impossible to keep organised.
My clothing draws were in need of a cleanout so I decided today was the day. Allirah helped Nic cook dinner and I had some time to empty the bathroom and bedroom draws and throw out anything I wasn’t using. I went through and categorised my socks. Boot socks. Sport socks. Bed socks (I live in Victoria, guys, it’s cold!). Sports bras, other bras. Underwear I even categorised. I threw out items I never used and those odd socks whose partners never showed up. (Can I just say, this is a rarity for me as I am quite diligent about pairing my socks!). Nevertheless, the draws were the most organised they had been since Allirah was born.
Not 10 minutes later, Nic walked into the wardrobe to find Allirah surrounded by socks and mum’s underwear. ‘Allirah….’ he said in that tone. He said the look on her face amazed him. ‘Oh,’ she said ashamedly like she knew she had done the wrong thing. She started patting down the items in the draws and trying to fix the mess that she had made. When I went to throw the things back into the draws later, I could see that she had been trying to categorise the things as she had seen me do. She had moved the socks to another container and put the bras in a different draw. But when Nic found her, she realised that although she had been trying, she had gotten it wrong.
How much does this represent us? God comes into our lives. He sorts through the chambers of our heart and gets rid of the old, worn parts of our soul that are no longer useful and just taking up space. He brings a new order and purpose to our lives. Yet before too long, we can be found making a mess again. Yes, even after we are saved, we can still make mistakes. We can still be found trying to do things our own way. Trying to make sense of the situation and rearrange the circumstances to suit our plans. Yes, we can be guilty of creating chaos even after God has brought order into our lives. Sin, really, is just choosing our own way rather than God’s way. I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of doing this. Even if it’s as ‘harmless’ as going ahead with something after God has told me to wait. That is choosing my own way. That is forging my own path, rather than waiting for God to lead me down the optimal road that he has carved for me.
The thing about this little mess that Allirah had made was that she didn’t need to be afraid. Yes, she had undone some of my hard work, but the mess she had made wasn’t anything that I wasn’t able to clean up. I had the power to and the ability to pick up the pieces and make it right again.
As Christians, we will make mistakes. Because we are only human. We are flawed. We are greedy and we know what we want. We are prideful and think we know what is best. This is why we need Jesus, after all!
But if we take our eyes off our failure and fix our gaze on Jesus, ‘the author and perfector of our faith’ (Hebres !2:2) then we will be reminded what a good God we have. 1 John 1:9 says, ‘If we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and wash our sins away’ (CEV). God has the power to make it right. But we have to give it to him. He doesn’t barge his way into our lives. He created us with free choice. He lets us choose.
So what are you choosing? Have you made a mistake? Acknowledge it for what it was – you chose your own way or you thought you knew what was best. It’s okay to make a mistake. That’s why Jesus died – because we could never live right on our own. Just don’t stay in that place. Take your mistakes to God. Take your regret to God. Ask God to forgive you. Ask him to clean up the mess you have made. And then give him permission to make things right. Read the Bible and do what it says. Listen to his promptings and soon you will find order in your life again. Our Bible is the guidebook for life, after all. It’s an instruction manual. God says, ‘I made you, I know you. I know how you work. I know how the world works. Trust me, this is the best way. Walk in it’ (My paraphrase, obviously).