This week my friends went out to celebrate their anniversary. I had offered to collect them after dinner so they could relax and have a nice meal and didn’t have the stress of driving home. Initially, my friend declined my offer but had a change of heart. Later on, in the evening she messaged me to say she would like to take me up on the offer. She had sent me a text to check it was still ok. A text message I didn’t pick up for a good while after it was sent. Immediately, I replied, of course, and a quick glance at the time revealed that I had thirty minutes before I had to collect them. Then my gut hit the floor when I thought of the state of my car. Like I’m happy enough to put it out there, I HATE CLEANING!! so my car is always a mess and, every time I clean it within a few days it’s a mess again. I’ll blame the kids, of course, because there are days we can practically live in the car I do that much running about after the kids. So I rushed downstairs grabbed a bin bag and trailed the hoover out the front to set about giving my stinking car a wonder valet in the space of fifteen minutes.
So here is the thing. My friends love me very much just as I am, I know that! They know me so well and love me regardless of the mess that my kids have created in my car (because it’s always the kids never me). In fact, they probably know that my car is always so messy and would not have even expected it to be clean. But even still, the minute I knew I had to go and collect them I went into panic mode and moved fast enough to make Superman jealous. Come on, I know I’m not alone here. Who does the frantic clean when they know guests are coming? I know friends whose homes are always spotless all the time who still set about a mad cleaning frenzy for guests coming. This is what we do. Like as if they are coming with white gloves on to inspect the top shelf.
This kind of got me to think about how we do this in life. My friend would often say in response to my doorstep greeting of hi, excuse the mess, as I walk in backwards trying to keep eye contact as I stoop and grab mess to hide. She would reply, stop I’m not here to see the house I’m here to see you. And I’ve been trying to figure out what feeling inside of me conjures that heart sinking feeling when someone walks into a messy house and I believe it’s the same feeling you get when someone walks in on your messy life.
What we do or don’t do in the confines of our own home is usually private…until we have guests coming. The often embarrassing evidence of daily bad habits usually needs to be stashed, stored, or destroyed, and so often we try to do this with our messy life habits too. We try to hide and stash and store away the bits of our life that we would be embarrassed about and we try to destroy or hide the evidence of these bad habits.
We live in a culture of self-improvement. We spend so much time and energy analyzing ourselves and trying to figure out how to make the bad part better. We go shopping or to the gym, focusing time, energy and money on improving what we consider to be the bad part. And the part we can’t improve, or we haven’t improved yet, we tend to hide.
We all have bad habits that we would rather others didn’t know about. We probably all have bad habits we wished God didn’t know about, but God sees everything, he knows every part of you, he knows your thoughts, he knows your heart and he knows your intentions and, still he loves you. You don’t need to hide your bad habits from him. Well firstly, because you can’t, it’s just not possible and second, because it could not and would not change how God feels about you.
“There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenceless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account.”
Hebrews 4:13 TPT
We all have parts of us that we are ok with the world seeing, like when we are on our best behaviour, and other parts of us that we want to hide from the world, that usually cause us to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
God can’t work on the bits we pretend not to be there, the bits that we keep hidden.
God can’t bless the people we are pretending to be, he can only bless the real us. The real us that has a weakness, temptation, bad habits, the real us that makes a mistake that falls short, that sins. The real us that accepts that we can’t fix or control these mistakes or the outcome of them and that we need God to do that for us.
The Bible says that Gods grace is sufficient.
“But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT
God’s grace is a free gift. We don’t earn it, we are given it by God. Grace is the unmerited, undeserving favour for those under condemnation.
See that shame, that embarrassment, that condemnation – that comes from the enemy and he is a big fat dirty rotten liar! He wants to tell you that you should hide your past regrets your bad habits and your struggles and mistakes, but God wants to say I see your mistakes, I see your shame, I see your hidden secrets and I love you anyway. Come receive my grace, my forgiveness. Let’s work through these problems together and I will help you live a better life, not only a life free from shame but an abundant life filled with joy and peace and love.
In the context of my messy car, it would be like me turning up with my messy car and saying, hey sorry about the mess of my car. I really hate that I can’t get it together enough on my own to tidy it. I don’t know how to keep it clean and it would be like my friend saying, hey I see your messy car. Here is what I’ll do, I will give you a new car and I’ll teach you how to keep it clean and at any time you struggle or forget I will still be here to help you.
God wants you to come to him with your messy life and say here is my messy life. I hate that I can’t make it better on my own can you please help me. and he says my grace will give you a new life and my love will help you maintain your new, clean life and if anytime you struggle or fall short my grace still covers that too, because my grace is sufficient to cover it all.