Actual Food — Living Messy

Sustenance for The Spirit

There was a book I used to own called Messies Manual by Sandra Felton. I’ve lost track of it during the years, can’t remember who I loaned it to, etc., because it was a favorite to recommend to others who were not naturally born to keep a clean house. For some of us, we have to intentionally plan, and carry-out said plan, doing a lot of self-motivating, rewarding and goal setting along the way, to achieve a consistently clean home environment. I don’t like to live in a messy house, but like I said, the cleaning did not come naturally to me as I somehow thought it magically would when I said “I do” to begin married life. My big discovery after the realization hit that no one else was going to drop in and do it for me, was that life is naturally messy and it takes effort to clean up.

I was struck again by this concept recently. I started a mental list of all the messy things we live with and sometimes embrace. There’s messy houses, messy closets, messy lives, messy buns, messy cars, messy faces, messy aprons, and really, anything that we like clean, can in fact, become messy. I even heard our President use the term messy to describe the American pull-out from Afghanistan. I heard our preacher use the word messy to describe life on earth. And yes, both were pretty accurate in their descriptions with the simple five letter word, “messy.”

When I hear something repeated within a short period of time, and it’s something that’s been on my mind anyway, I can’t help but feel that the Spirit is nudging me to explore it. So, I thought about where I might find messiness in the Bible. There is actually a lot of it within the Holy text, but what stands out to me is the life of David. For someone who was so heralded by his people, and was described as a man after God’s “own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), his life was often in turmoil. They could have named a soap opera after him. He was a warrior that killed his “tens of thousands”(1 Samuel 18:7). He committed adultery, having Uriah killed to marry and cover the adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. He fled from his own son, who wanted to kill him. David never really knew who he could trust while ruling as king, and was unable to build the temple due to the “shed blood” in wars he had fought (1Chronicles 22:8), which was heart-breaking for a mighty King David. David expressed himself through passion, worship, music and poetry, and obedience to God. He was a dichotomy of peace and strength, yet violent and very alpha, which makes for a messy existence on earth.

There is a passage in the New Testament that reflects how David coped in his messy Old Testament world, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (Hebrews 3:14, NIV) David’s writing in the Psalms reveals moments that were not always clean and neat, where he is searching for God and then praising Him for the rescue, compassion and saving grace he finds. Compare Psalms 64 and 65 as one of many examples. David continues to go back to God. He has tucked away in his memory the stories of his childhood, when God rescued him as a young shepherd boy from wild animals, and provided a few smooth stones to bring down a mighty giant sending the Philistine army into panic. David had his confidence in God from a young age, and held onto it throughout his messy life. He used God to wipe off the grime and rest in the clean and pure graciousness.

Jesus had to endure a messy earth while he walked among humans. I can imagine it being like walking into a dirt infested, smelly, nasty, convenience store bathroom, compared to His prior life at the right hand of God. David and Jesus have the experience of messiness in common. I wonder what it was like when David met Jesus. Perhaps he coached Jesus a little about what He would have to endure during his life on earth. I can imagine a huge welcome back hug when Jesus’ earthly life was over and He returned to his ethereal home. I know this is all speculation from a very human perspective, but it begs the point that however messy things get here on earth, Jesus understands, David understands, and certainly God understands. It’s up to us to decide which life we really want. Sometimes, we make messy our mantra, and although we say we don’t like it, we live as though it’s what we’re satisfied with, so why try to clean it up? We have to seek that which is not messy, even if we feel trapped by a messiness, over which we have limited control. God takes our poor decisions, our sinful selves, our prideful thoughts and the consequences, and extends the clean and pure hand of grace. He can pull us out of the mire. He can wash us off with the water hose. He cleanses every grimy crevice in our soul. Let’s shower in His eternal water. It has no chemicals, no pollutants, and no harmful properties. How awesome it is to feel truly clean, in spite of the mess around us.

Have a wonderful day.

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Xan Holub

A skeptical baby boomer, a Christian woman with a desire to share honest messages from a heart shaped in a life of stability, yet facing a world on the edge.