My three-year-old grandson Micah doesn’t like messes. He likes things neat and tidy. Last week at the grocery store, as we pushed the cart past the paper goods, we glanced down the aisle. Six or 8 large packages of toilet paper had fallen off the too-packed shelf and were spread out across the tile floor. We could not continue our shopping until Micah had re-shelved all the errant packs of Northern, logos facing out and right-side up.
Then, the very next day, Micah got another chance to show his penchant for cleaning up messes. Micah’s aunt – my second daughter – got married on Thursday and Micah was the ring bearer. He and the flower girl, Charlie, had practiced walking down the aisle on Wednesday night. But Charlie did not drop any flower petals during the rehearsal. She saved that for the actual ceremony.
Micah and Charlie began the walk down the aisle holding hands and looking quite dignified. All was well until they reached the back row of chairs, the point where Charlie had been told to begin dropping the petals. When the first two hit the ground Micah stopped in his tracks.
I could see Micah from where I stood on the front row. He looked at the petals then he looked at Charlie. I knew what Micah was thinking: “Oh no! She dropped them! The petals are supposed to be in the basket, not on the ground.” So he did what any neat, orderly person would do. He picked them up and put them back in the basket.
Micah’s dad, who was standing in the back, encouraged Micah to not worry about it and keep going. Charlie grabbed his hand and urged him to start walking again down the aisle. Micah did start walking and he kept walking all the way to the front. But he kept glancing down at the falling petals. He really wanted to stop and pick up each one. I could tell.
I’m a lot like my grandson. I like things neat and orderly. I want my life, my husband’s life, and my kids’ lives to be problem-free. And when problems inevitably arise, I want to fix them. In fact, I try to fix them.
Sometimes I can help. But more often I just can’t. I cannot control every situation. I can rarely influence other people. The world is broken. Life is messy.
Thankfully, I know the only One who does have control of every situation. The One who is the ultimate problem solver and mess fixer. And our all-powerful, sovereign God also cares about every single problem, every single mess.
But that doesn’t mean He works the way I would. But I only see today. My knowledge is so small. You see, I would put the petals back in the basket. But our God often allows them to be strewn all along the path. Just so the Bride can walk over them in joy.
What messes mark your life today? How might God want to work differently than you would choose to work?