This morning my daily flip calendar called She Lives, She Loves, She Laughs reads, “Aren’t you tickled pink to be the joy of God’s heart…the reason for His happy song?”
It has truly left me wondering, how could I possibly be the joy of God’s heart? I am such a mess! How could a mess like me give God a happy song?
When I picture God the Father, I sometimes picture a very annoyed father. The kind who is exhausted, weary, and frustrated that their child continues to do the wrong thing, to make mistakes, and to leave a trail of wreckage in their wake.
Mostly that picture comes to mind because I envision myself as the child who is causing the exhaustion, weariness, and frustration. I look back on my path in life and there is definitely some wreckage in my wake. Times where I said or did the wrong thing. Times where I said or did nothing. Times where I fell short. Times when I didn’t even try. Times where I eagerly dived in with enthusiasm only to feel the harsh sting of a complete belly flop.
If I am brutally honest, it is a pretty littered path I have behind me.
Looking back along the path, there are also many beautiful flowers. Good times. Successes. Laughter. Hope. Joy. Moments that were so sweet they just took my breath away and left me speechless for words to describe them.
A Blend of Both
I have come to realize that I am a blend of both mess and joy, all baked together. Baked like the ingredients of cake, even if you tried really hard one could not separate the flour from the sugar from the eggs. It’s like that with my mess and joy, no matter how much I may want to separate it out of me, it is just not possible.
Recently my daughter and I were hiking a path while on vacation in Northern Minnesota. When we came upon this sight:
In the mess of swamp and cattails there was a child’s big wheel. Big wheel down in the mud out of reach from the sides of the pond. My daughter and I just started laughing. Our minds racing with the possibilities of what was going on that could bring this end result.
We have no idea what really happened or even how long it had been since this big wheels bike landed in this predicament. At the time we arrived any recovery efforts had long been ended. So what else could we do but have a good laugh and take a picture to share the comedy with those we love.
I could not think of a better image than this to represent being a joy and a mess. Big wheels were such a delight to ride around on in my childhood. I can still hear giggles of joy as my brother, Mike, and I would rumble down the sidewalks on our big wheels.
At some point this had clearly gone from fun to mess. I think back to all of the messes my brother and I have made or gotten into over the years. Messes that happened because we did not take important factors into account, or because we stubbornly thought we could do it, or many times it just did not go as planned. The end result, messes. Messes that usually required energy, effort, and expense to get out of or cleaned up from.
Joy of the Mess
As I look back, I find myself laughing at the messes that I got into with my brother. For some reason, they are funny and lighthearted memories now. Recounting these memories with each other even brings us joy.
Wait…how does that happen? How is it that there can be joy and mess together? Honestly, I have no explanation for it. All I know is that I have witnessed it with my own eyes.
I have come to conclude that one does not have to be mess free to be a joy. Each of us can be a joy and a mess. Doesn’t that just take a weight of of your shoulders or perhaps a weight off of your heart?
Think of all the energy, effort and expense we pour into our lives attempting to make us mess free? Wanting to say the right thing, do the right thing, have the right image, have the right stuff, always on target, and right on key. Just about the time we think we have it figured out, we step in mud or gum or worse.
Here is the really amazing part, we can have messes in our lives AND still be a joy. We are not sorted into groups as messes over here and joys over there. There may be times we feel like we have been sorted aside as a mess, and when we make assumptions about others that they are mess free joys. The truth is we are all a Joy AND a Mess.
Did You Listen to the Song?
As I re-read the calendar quote, “Aren’t you tickled pink to be the joy of God’s heart…the reason for His happy song?”, I humbly realize that I so often jump to explaining and rationalizing why I could not possibly be the joy of God’s heart I completely miss out on the song.
I missed it completely. I was so wrapped up in the thunderstorm of thoughts rumbling and flashing in my mind that I was not listening at all. Chronic over thinker? Yes, yes I am. Mental mess? Yes, some days I truly am.
This calendar quip reminds me of Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV):
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Many times I have read this and focused more on God is with me or being saved or God taking great delight in me, but today it was all about the singing. Am I listening to the song?
Am I finding joy in being still and listening? Or do I just appear to be listening on the outside, while inside I am vigorously whisking a mental mess of own making, something I may intend to stew on for long periods of time?
Today I really want to hear that song. I want to focus on the singing.
God’s love, His heart, is tender enough and strong enough to accept with open arms the blend of mess and the joy that we are. May that love draw us in and still our bodies, minds and spirits enough to fully experience the song God is rejoicing in today.
Lord, thank You for making me the joy of Your heart. Lord, so many times I simply see myself as a mess and can not begin to understand how You could see me as a joy. Some days my heart just pours all of my hurts, mistakes and failures into my mind as reasons for why I am only a mess, explanations of why I could not possibly be a joy.
All of the explanations, rationalizations and reasons rattle through my mind and distract me from really listening, from hearing Your song and from experiencing Your words. Lord, help me to accept that I am a mess and a joy. Help me to feel the greatness of Your love, Your delight, Your joy for me. It is Your goodness and not my effort that affords these great affections.
In the Joy of Jesus’ name, amen.