Finding and Seeing God in the Midst of a Mess

Bob Goff is a really brilliant guy. He’s the type of brilliant person who writes short simple sayings that are really deep. Here is a tweet he shared the other day:

“When we keep asking God to show up at places He’s already at, He isn’t mad, He probably just figures we didn’t recognize Him”

This really got me thinking…

How often am I asking God to show up somewhere and he already is but I don’t have eyes to see it? How often am I missing Jesus all around me?

And as I started to reflect on those questions I realized…I’m missing him probably more than I should…

The reality is that in really difficult situations, relationships, and even places, it can be hard to find God. When life is messy we ask God to show up, but the way God shows up in a mess isn’t to clean it up. The way God shows up in a mess is to enter into it and to start changing it from the outside. This type of involvement is slow, it is subtle and it is the most powerful.

This is really seen during Christmas which we just past. The world was broken, it was a mess, and people asked God to show up. So he did in the person of a baby, in the forgotten place, mostly alone and definitely in the dark.

The point is that we are often asking God to show up when he might already be there, working from within, and giving glimpses of grace. So for me personally I’ve moved from asking God to show up, to asking God to give me eyes to see him. That little difference has made all the difference…now I’m not waiting in God’s absence, I’m searching for his presence

Messiness in the 1st Christmas

On Sunday we looked at the reality of Jesus entrance into the world. And it should give us so much hope because Jesus shows up in the midst of a mess.

On the first Christmas there was family drama because as Mary and Joseph come home they end up staying…in an Inn. Which means they weren’t welcome at home. They were rejected while being nine months pregnant. They have travelled, are dirty, tired, sore, and now hurt. There is a chance for division between them as they talk about their families and the rejection. They can’t find anywhere to stay and Joseph must be wondering how am I to be a father to the messiah if I can’t even find us a place to stay. They end up in a barn with a manger.  Jesus in a feeding trough.  Jesus born in the midst of dirt, messiness, and family drama.

What I love about this is that Jesus decides to show up in the midst of a mess. So if in your family Christmas can bring with it some drama, division, and rejection. If in this Christmas your finances are in a mess, your personal relationships or your family, this doesn’t stop Jesus from showing up. Because God chose for Jesus to show up for the very first time when everything wasn’t perfect, pristine, and pretty. God chose Jesus to show up in the midst of a mess and to start to transform things from there.

So this Christmas, if your life is feeling a bit messy in places, then invite Jesus to show up there. Remember that messiness in our lives doesn’t stop Jesus from coming, because it’s the first place he chose to show up. And so if he chose way back then to show up in the midst of a mess…my theological guess is that your mess isn’t too big for him to show up there too…

So look for him, invite him, and trust that even in the midst of a mess the Messiah comes…

Teaching Notes (Download)

Big Idea: Jesus chooses to show up in the midst of our mess

Take Aways…

  • Advent is then a period of intense training that directs us decisively to the One who has already come, who will come and who continuously comes. Pope John Paul
  • We tend to base our hope on our present reality…rather than the reality of Jesus.
  • Even in the first Christmas there was a mess…family drama, division, and hurt feelings, but it doesn’t stop Jesus from showing up.
  • Focus on Jesus to find him in the midst of a mess…
  • We are far to easily pleased. C.S. Lewis

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stood out to you from this morning’s talk? What made you laugh? What made you think? What was new? Spend a moment and think and picture what it might be like in when Jesus was born. As you reflect on it, what strikes you? Where in your own life is there a bit of “messiness”? Do you believe and trust that God can show up there? What stops you from trusting in that truth? What helps you to trust in the truth that God wants to show up? How might you focus on him this Christmas season and not get distracted by the mess? When has Jesus shown up for you in the midst of a mess? How might he do it again this season?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Read over the Christmas story with your family. Have the kids picture the story and share with them how Jesus came in the midst of a mess, that whenever we are in a mess he wants to be there with us too.

Challenge for this Week:

Decide on how to focus on Jesus this season

Shhhh….I’m Hiding

A couple of months ago we were leaving my Mom’s house and I told Hudson it was time to go. His reaction was to hide because he didn’t want to go. Here’s how he did it…

So he hasn’t really gotten how to hide yet. But it is super cute. But in the midst of his small cuteness I realized something about myself.

Isn’t this exactly what I do with God? Hide in ineffective ways?

When I sin, when I fail, when I screw up, I often try to hide from God. I try to cover up my shame, my guilt, and my failure, hoping that God won’t see. This is something that I think is part of human nature. What do Adam and Eve do when they mess up? They hide. What do children do when they screw up? They hide. Rather than dealing with the mess, we hide, hoping no one will notice us hiding in the bushes.

The point for me is simple: in so many ways I’m still a child. What I mean by this is that my desire to hide, my desire to cover up my shame shows that in some way, I’m fearful of God. That at some level I haven’t truly grasped the truth that God is grace, that God is love, that God is a gift. That in some ways I haven’t grown up and matured to realize that God cares about me more than any mess I create. And instead of going confidently into his presence, as Hebrews tells us, I hide. Rather than dealing with God, I try to cover my face in some branches.

So while this picture makes me smile, it also makes me think about what I truly believe about God deep down. Do I fundamentally think that God is someone who I need to hide from? Do I believe really that Jesus is someone I wouldn’t want to meet in the middle of my mess? Because the picture of Jesus and God in the gospels is someone full of grace. It’s a picture of someone who drew to him all the broken, messy, and sinful people. It’s a picture of someone you never want to hide from.

So the next time I’m tempted to hide, I’m going to trust in the God revealed in Jesus Christ. I’m going to trust in grace, I’m going to trust in his gift, I’m going to trust in God. And I’m going to walk up to him and say, “I screwed up, here is my mess, help me.”

But what about you? The next time you feel full of guilt, shame, and sin, rather than hiding, why not start talking? Why not open up with him about anything that you’ve been shoving down and away? Why not bring him in, so that healing and grace can be part of that area of your life?

Because I’ve also learned something from Hudson: putting your face behind branches doesn’t really work anyway…