The Process Within The Mess

Categories: Staff Devotions

January 3, 2017

The Process Within The MessMark Graham

– Mark Graham (Marble Hill Campus)

In my former life, I was a Union Sheet Metal Worker in St. Louis, so I’m no stranger to construction sites.  Most of us have seen them: dirt and clay in the streets from trucks and other equipment driving around, burn piles, pallets of wood, bricks or blocks, scraps of building materials and other trash strewn about the site, deep ruts and mud holes where a yard should be, cords and hoses running all over the ground, etc.  And the house itself looks pretty bad, too – only partially constructed, its insides are hanging out for all to see.  But this messy process is necessary for the construction to take place.  If it weren’t for the mess, the finished product would never be produced.  Once it’s finished, the house and yard look beautiful, and the new homeowners can move right in.
One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 14:4 – “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.”  Oxen are smelly and messy.  It takes a lot of work to feed them and clean up after them.  But without the ox, no harvest is produced.  In other words, “Sure, you can have a mess-free life, but don’t expect it to be a productive one.  The process of productivity is hidden within the mess.”
Our relationship with God is like this.  We will all go through times in our lives when everything seems to be in utter disarray.  But it’s in these times when God is building a new structure in us.  He may remove some supporting timbers and replace them.  He may gut a room and remodel it.  He may even build on a new addition.  And it’s all usually quite messy.  But unless we go through the process of productivity within the mess, we will never reach the end product He has in mind.
The end product is more Christ-likeness.  More maturity.  More humility.  More obedience.  More effectiveness.  Simply put, the end product He desires is less of me and more of Him.  In order to achieve that, from time to time He will allow us to GO through a mess so we can GROW through the process of removing all that is not Him.  It’s a messy, often-times painful process, but it is absolutely essential in producing the finished product.
(I should point out, it’s entirely possible to deal with the mess of an ox and still not receive a harvest.  A mess in your barn does not guarantee a crop in your field.  Producing a harvest still requires deliberate, attentive work.)
It’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with the messes of life.  Sometimes, it may seem like that’s all we do – manage messes.  And sadly, in those times, it’s easy for us to miss the opportunity for growth within the mess because we’re so focused on the mess.  It takes a measure of self-discipline to step back and say, “OK, God, what do you want to build in me through this mess?”  It takes a measure of maturity to realize that – even in the midst of the mess – the mess is part of the process of God setting us up for a more fruitful, abundant harvest in our lives.  He delights in meeting us at the point of our greatest, most challenging mess and turning it into the platform for our greatest growth and promotion.
So, don’t resent the mess!  Embrace it as part of the process of receiving your harvest!