copyright 2006, Lani Wiens
a fresh flowers original
I was greeted with an interesting sight when I got home from the ballet run today. My eldest son was beaming from ear to ear with the joy of discovery. He was also covered head to toe in green glop... so was the table, the floor and the nearest chair. Bits of glop found their way into the hallway and living room. The counters and sink had remnants of other experiments that had gone on this morning. But my boy was radiant with what he'd learned and managed to accompish on his own, telling me about the things he'd found out about the glop he'd created. He valiantly attempted to clean up his mess, however, nine year old mess cleaning up isn't quite the same as mommy cleaning up, I was glad he attempted to undo his mess at least.
I thought about the other messes I'm encountering lately. My two year old is learning to go to the bathroom by himself. For any of you who have been down that road you may recall the joys of this time of life - it is messy, but the results are great when the journey is over. My three year old has discovered puzzles, I am constantly picking up puzzle pieces from interesting places.
Anytime a new thing is being learned there is sure to be a mess involved. It may not be a physical mess but there will be a mess of some kind guaranteed. Think about this in the context of a new believer or someone just discovering and experimenting with their spiritual gifts. The first time someone using a gift of prophecy steps out there is usually a little correcting needed, perhaps some fires to put out but do we stop that person from prophecying again? I hope not. What about the first time someone tries to lead a group or head up a ministry. There will be mistakes, things to be cleaned up but we don't stop trying.
What would happen if you had a baby learning to walk and because they kept falling on their bottom you decided it would be better if they didn't do that again. You had better strengthen your arm muscles because you'll be carrying that child around for the rest of your life unless someone else intervenes. Any parents I know of would never even think of doing that in that context and yet we do tend to limit people in our sphere when they are learning something new because we don't want to be bothered with the mess. If I am too tired and it seems like a lot of work I am eager to put a diaper on that 2 year old bottom and not bother with the underwear, but he won't learn without my consistent support, encouragement and cleaning cloth.
In this process of discipleship, learning and growing we must be prepared for the mess, it will surely come. We need to remember that we once had to learn those things, too and there will be new things that we still have to learn, we will make our own messes that someone else will clean up. Love one another, bear one another's burdens, these are the commands of God. They will know we are Christians by our love for one another, or perhaps by how merciful we are during the messes. Keep your cleaning cloth in your back pocket - don't leave home without it.