God’s messy kids

MessIs anyone old enough to remember the "messy Marvin" commericals?  Funny enough, I don’t remember the exact product being pushed (was it chocolate milk?), but there was this kid named messy Marvin in an otherwise average middle class American family.  In spite of my failing memory, I can visualize this little 5 year old kid sitting at the dinner table with food everywhere and all over his face. 
This morning, I pulled my own version of a messy Marvin.  I was sitting at (you know where)..drinking coffee and reading when I mindlessly knocked the cup of coffee off the table and proceeded to lose all of its contents on the floor.  It wasn’t one of those accidents where you kind of spill your drink and still salvage half of it with a quick reflex that would make the Kung-Fu guy jealous either. 
My first concern was not about my lost drink or my immediate reputation. Rather, I kept thinking about the long journey around the corner to inform the barista of my stupidity.  I sheepishly told him of my accident to which he replied, "is this going to require a mop?".  "Uh…yeah..I told him" as I continued to sink deeper into guilty awkwardness.  I moved over to the other side of the coffee shop as he came around the corner with mop bucket in tow, because I couldn’t bear to stand there helplessly as he cleaned up a mess that was caused by me and only me!  With wallet in hand, I tip-toed my way to the counter where I told another girl that I had an accident.  She nodded knowingly as she turned around to pour me a fresh cup of coffee.  I went through the formality of extracting my debit card as she waved it off and gave me a free cup of the Cafe’ Estima.

Because of the simple fact that Starbucks has tile floors should remind me that spills happen occasionally.  However, if it didn’t, then the attitudes and responses of the two workers surely would have clued me in as well.  Upon receiving the news of my gaffe, the barista didn’t throw his hands up in the air like Napolean Dynamite and let out a hearty "IDIOT".  He didn’t even release a subtle sigh as if to say, "foolish, foolish man you are".  No, he simply surveyed the situation, grabbed the necessary tools, and promptly cleaned up the mess. No complaints, no mumbling under his breath, no rolling of the eyes.  The counter girl with nary a studder in speech or step, provided me with a replacement coffee as she uttered the cliched line "don’t worry, clean slate."

It was at that moment that I began to think about my heavenly Father.  From Adam to Rob, we’ve made a mess of His world.  We’ve not only uglied up the earth, we’ve corrupted His greatest, created accomplishment.  Us.  I’ve come to abhor the phrase "he’s only human" or  "she’s only human".  It’s not to say that our depravity doesn’t exist, however, "humanity" is not God’s apology to the universe.  To be human is a compliment.("I realize he’s a mess, but cut him some slack because he’s human which is to say a bearer of God’s image!) What we have today is a "messy Marvin" humanity.

Sadly, it is our bad choices which have been the very reason for our messy state!  How quickly Adam and Eve made a mess of things upon taking that first bite of forbidden fruit! It’s like a curious toddler who walks into a room of 100,000 dominos that someone spent a week carefully and meticulously setting up only to have the child topple them with one glancing blow to the trigger domino leaving a trail of dissheveled messiness like nakedness, guilt, shame, embarrassment, loneliness….on and on.  But do you know what the silver lining of the fall of man is?  It’s the point where God looks for Adam (as if He didn’t know where he was), surveys the mess, and immediately begins the grand plan of redemption !!  (to the serpent/Satan: "he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.")

Of course, the consequences of their choice remained, but God mopped up the initial spill right off the bat. ("The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them"….removed the shame).  Our choices carry consequences too, but we don’t have to continue to wallow in the mess of past failures!  I couldn’t imagine sitting there trying to read while surrounded by a puddle of coffee,( I can see it now: book in hand, feet up in the air), so I humbly approach the barista in all of my shame. "Oh and by the way, can I have another cup?"

Let’s face the truth, we’re "messy Marvins" and we will ugly up things from time to time.  But that’s no reason to hate ourselves over it.  It wasn’t a prideful heart that said "we were fearfully and wonderfully made".  A time will come when everything is redeemed including our bodies where sin still resides.  He has already redeemed our souls, but He doesn’t stop there!  He wants all of it back!  It’s because of God’s grace that he mops up our self-inflicted spills with forgiveness and mercy, but God’s grace isn’t just about that! It not only cleans up the messes we made yesterday, but empowers us to a "cleaner" life today and tomorrow! God’s grace is the fuel of redemption.   We can and should be a part of the redemption process too!   As Dallas Willard profoundly states "Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning."  The "easy yoke" is just that!  We put on the yoke knowing full well that we’re not stong enough to plow the fields alone, but the yoke connects us to the one who is able and all powerful!  By the way, the yoke is free of charge.  There’s no need to check Ebay.  He provides the yoke, the strength, and the direction.  We just slip the yoke on and participate in the plowing.

I wasn’t really surprised that the counter girl didn’t charge me for that 2nd cup this morning.  I would have gladly paid to ease my conscience.  As I expected, she didn’t scold me or frown at me.  She generously looked past my mistake as if it never happened, gave me a clean new cup of freshly brewed java, and bid me a good day.  I can’t guarantee that I will never knock over a cup of coffee again, but I will not waste my life thinking about the possibility.  This will not prevent me from going back tomorrow.  I will not swear off coffee, and I will not give up on reading a good book because of my past mess. I’m not worried in the least that Starbucks will hire a bouncer just to keep me out.  I’m sure in all of their cheesy scripted dialogue that they will welcome me back with open arms, and if I drop my coffee again, they’ll take care of it.

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