Have you ever tried to create a master-piece and ended up with a royal mess instead? Years ago when visiting family in Belgium, I decided to make a Black Forest cake for my mom’s birthday. The cake was fine, it was the icing that presented the challenge. I made three trips by bicycle to the store frantically buying various ingredients to try and thicken up the icing that persisted in sliding off the cake. The more I added to it the worse it got. That evening, much to my chagrin, instead of a glorious pièce de résistance, my cake looked like a gigantic cow patty – with cherries on top.
You smile because you can relate. We’ve all messed up once or twice. But sometimes our messes are far more critical like squandered health or a shattered relationship. And sadly, there are times our lives are catastrophically messed up by the actions of others – like my 42-year old friend who has lived as a quadriplegic since he was 18 because someone decided to drink and drive.
Two years ago, our church was almost completely destroyed by an arson fire. Most of the contents were lost due to extensive smoke damage and the building was stripped back to the outer walls. It was an overwhelming mess. Our congregation was faced with the daunting task of rebuilding and replacing what had been, for all intents and purposes, stolen from us.
We could have become bitter and resentful about being displaced from our house of worship for 18 months, spending countless hours on design, construction, acquisitions and wading through mountains of paperwork. But we didn’t. Romans 8:28 promises that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” True to His Word, God did turn what was intended to hurt and harm into something that instead resulted in growth, healing and blessing.
We developed deeper relationships within our own church family and experienced the love of other churches in the community as they reached out to support us in our time of need. In the end, we have been blessed with a beautiful new wheelchair accessible building that enables us to more effectively serve our community.
Isaiah 61:3 tells us that God consoles those who mourn and that He gives them “beauty for ashes”. Regardless of the magnitude of your “messes” and whether they are self-inflicted or a consequence of someone else’s choices, if you bring the broken and charred remains of your life to God and ask for His help, He cause something beautiful to rise up out of ashes and will turn your sorrow into joy.