“Blessed be my rich Lord Jesus, who sendeth not away beggars from his house with a toom [empty] dish. He filleth the vessels of such as will come and seek. We might beg ourselves rich (if we were wise), if we could but hold out our withered hands to Christ, and learn to suit and seek, ask and knock.”
Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ: Extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford, pg. 75-76
Our lives are messy, aren’t they? They can often be filled with weary brokenness. This brokenness is compounded in our relationships. We frequently want to live in simplicity, but the lingering effects of sin in the world produce a complex weariness for us. When we combine this with a shortage of time for personal reflection and the intricate struggles of our hearts, we will find that we may not even have a basic knowledge of ourselves.
About a year ago, I had a really good conversation with a pastor-friend of mine. He was a seasoned, older man whose wife had died of ALS a few years earlier. As we discussed the topic of the weary, broken mess of our lives, he reflected upon his inability to sing since his wife had died. As a thoughtful pastor, he couldn’t articulate the implications of his grief on his heart. It was experiential for him. He felt the weight of his loss, but couldn’t identify all the ways his heart and life seemed broken. While he knew it wasn’t healthy not to sing before the Lord, he found a certain solace in his inherent longing for it.
We often want clear, simple solutions to the complex issues and relationships in our lives. We want a clearly written Epistle to Bennett that lays waste to any ambiguity in our lives. Why didn’t the Lord provide such a guide for us? Why allow us to live in mess? Why not provide a great halogen to light up the field, rather than a small lamp for our feet and light unto our path? A small lamp forces us to live in relationship with our Redeemer. Our weary brokenness humbles and points us to the source of all our provision.
In a life of persistent suffering, we are given opportunities to be drawn closer to the Great Provider. We learn how God uses the process of our faith to shape the faithfulness of our actions. It is not about our ability to fix the mess but be transformed in it. This is essential for our walk in Him. In His work, we will lose ourselves to find a new life in Him. This seems to me an outworking of Samuel Rutherford’s quote at the beginning. Our weary, withered hands are soothed in the love of our King as we continually return again to Him. In this persistent return, I experience something that cannot be learned in any other way. I am loved. I am loved in the mess. I can love in the midst of the mess. Let us learn to not resist the mess, but to see the healing hands of Christ soothe our aching souls and bring other messy lives to His eager door.