(By Christina Gagnon)
Some of my favorite conversations with my mom center around story time when she tells me about things from her life. A random snapshot of my new kitties featured an old text in the background. That snapshot sparked a fascinating conversation about the messy history of that text.
A long time ago, this text was painted by one of my aunts. Somehow, no one quite remembers how, it ended up in a scrap woodpile. No one noticed it was there, even when it was moved, along with several other planks, into the chicken coop and used to help stabilize an old camper my aunts had bought for a hen house. For several years this text sat in the mud and the snow and the muck from the chicken coop patiently holding up the corner of the hen house and keeping it stable.
Times change, and my aunt’s need for a hen house disappeared, along with all the chickens. After the old camper was moved away, my mom happened to be the one to come across this plank, facedown in the muck. She took it home, scrubbed it clean, and was able to mount it on a wall in her home. Now, several years and a few moves later, it graces a wall in my sister’s house, with the ever-present reminder that God is ever-present.
I had to go back and check the text over again. I would never have guessed that it had such a messy story in its history. It shows no signs of weathering, no signs of being covered in muck, no signs of being anything other than a cherished painting from an artistic aunt. And yet its history tells otherwise.
Its history…we all come with history…and some of it is pretty messy. Some of us, like the prodigal son, like this picture, have spent years in the muck of a pen, doing a job we were never meant to do. But God! How I love these times we read “But God!”
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, made us alive with Christ, raised us up with Christ, washed us in His own blood and made us clean and purified in Christ, so that, in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of His kindness toward us in Christ, for by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:4-8). What a transformation is wrought when a broken, messy heart turns to God for the first time and receives Him, receives the precious blood of Christ and is cleansed! If any one is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has passed away, all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17).
But it doesn’t just end there because very often we forget Him and wander away. But He is always waiting, like the father of the prodigal son, to welcome us home, to cleanse the stain, and purify again. He will never run out of patience with His children.
In a slightly different circumstance, sometimes we find ourselves bowed under by the messiness and brokenness of circumstances beyond our control. It seems like we have been forgotten, maybe even abandoned. We can look back over our choices and wail, like Job, “But I haven’t turned away from Him, why has He turned away from me?” If this is you, then I hope this little story speaks into your heart today. Even when you find yourself stuck in the muck under the weight of the world, when it seems like everything is falling down around you, His Word has not changed. His Word has not changed. Don’t be afraid. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will be with you in trouble. He will deliver you and honor you, He is with you alway. He will make all things new. Even you. Even your story, your life. You will shine again with the radiance of the noonday sun.
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard (Isaiah 58:8).