Saturday, March 4, 2017

Beautiful Mess

Let your harvest build, grow to your potential and then let your light shine for all to see.
When I was younger I always knew fall was in the air for two reasons—the weather (slowly and indecisively in the south) began to change and my dad would make an observation about how beautiful the leaves were on all the trees.
Fall allows us to enjoy the messiness of life. It's getting messy in a pile of leaves. It's getting messy deep inside of a pumpkin. It's making a mess with wrapping paper. And it's those messy unexpected, unscripted moments that don't have to be absolutely right to be perfect.
A few years ago, my dad learned a lot about life being messy. It was a wonderful fall evening inside Bryant Denny Stadium when my dad took his aisle seat in the bleachers. He loves Alabama football and that night was no exception.
I should probably mention that my dad and I are pretty picky eaters; me being the worst. We have exquisite taste in chocolate and steak and other novelties, but are known for being a little less adventurous with some foods.
On this particular night, a lady carrying a mega-sized order of nachos complete with jalapeƱo peppers and the whole works began her hike up the mountainous steps at the stadium. My dad eyed the offensive snack cautiously hoping she would quickly pass by the row. As luck would have it, the nacho lady seemed to lose her hold on the avalanche of decorated chips she was carrying at right about the spot my dad was sitting.
PLOP went the nachos… and the cheese… and the peppers… all over my dad. People seated in the section turned towards him with wide eyes and open mouths at the horror of what had just happened.
Ohhhhhhhhh seemed to be the unanimous response. I'm surprised it wasn't replayed on the Jumbotron –of course maybe people thought a little Tide might help fix it.
My dad offered forgiveness to the embarrassed lady but was still covered in clumps of nachos. His crimson jacket smelled like a snack stand. After attempting to wash it off, he shrugged and returned to his seat to watch the rest of the game. It appeared the great nacho disaster did not affect the outcome and my dad got a chance to respond in a Christ like way to a bad situation. He could have been mad and probably was a little, but he chose to offer grace instead of rudeness.
This story reminds me of a Liz Curtis Higgs book called the Pumpkin Patch Parable. It follows the journey of a farmer carving a pumpkin from harvest to Halloween night and metaphorically relates this tradition to how God makes us into a new creature. The farmer has to clean the dirt off and pull out the messy insides in order to make room for the light inside.
We tease my dad every time we see nachos climbing the steps at the stadium but in reality my dad demonstrated an important lesson that day.
We are all messy creations of Christ. We may not be covered in nachos or full of slimy seeds but we definitely need someone to come inside us and clean all the junk out. Like the farmer, God removes the muck and creates a fantastic design. We often fail to realize the artist has been working the whole time and that the masterpiece will come in just the right season. Let your harvest build, grow to your potential and then let your light shine for all to see.
We get a good laugh at the story about the nachos now but I think it's a good reminder that sometimes it is in the mess that opportunities arise. My dad let his light shine that day. He decided to enjoy the game through the mess. If only we could learn to do the same through all of life's frustrations and not so perfect moments.
Let us remember this week and this season to let our own lights shine. A single flame can disrupt the dark. Carve at your pumpkins and carve away the things in your life that need to go. Don't be afraid to get a little messy–take in the color of the leaves, dig into the pumpkin, go to the game and to live your life for Jesus. God may be using something messy to carve a wonderful masterpiece in your life.
“Let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16).
Happy fall! May you enjoy every wonderful messy moment. – Only Hope

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