I am about to make a grand confession: I love to sit and watch do it yourself catastrophe kind of shows. I can’t help myself – and I am pretty sure watching them has prevented me from my own disasters in home improvement. I often sit and wonder at the messes that are made of homes by men and women who have no idea how to swing a hammer or how to handle a drill. Still, they have an unimaginable courage. So, they start all these home projects that are far beyond their abilities with such good intentions. From “my wife wanted me to redo the kitchen” to “I got the idea from my friend,” most seem to have an inability to honestly assess their construction skills. And maybe their confidence comes from videos – you know, we live in the day of Youtube and home improvement shows. Who knows? Perhaps they believe they can learn anything from some ten minute “how to.”
A few days ago, during the wee hours of the morning that I have blocked off to sit at the feet of Jesus, this guy who walks beside me flipped on the tv and some show about a do-it-yourself mess was on – and my quiet time became a train wreck. I became captivated by the man who had basically made a disaster of everything, just as expected. Not to mention, he was taking forever. And so, his wife decided to call in the experts. The expert doesn’t do all the work. No. Instead, he wisely comes alongside the amateur explaining everything he did wrong. Then, he patiently teaches the homeowner how to swing the hammer, how to frame up that wall, how to run that saw, how to plumb up the walls, how to fix this or that. And in the end, something beautiful is created as they work side by side.
In those wee hours of the morning, through a tv show about home disasters, I saw my life. How many times have I seen something that needed fixed in myself, in someone else, in life, and tried to fix it on my own? How many times have I thought that I knew what I was doing when I didn’t have a clue? I would jot down a verse, hand it to a friend, and expect those words would fix her heartache. Or I would see one of my kids struggling and instead of pointing them to Jesus, I would try to take his trouble away. Or, I would tell him what to do – and of course, I had to be right, I was the mother. Or when the first doctor told me that I wouldn’t be able to have children, instead of running to Jesus, I ran to a “better” specialist until I had seen six in all. The only thing that changed was the name and face of the stoic doctor staring back at me and saying, “You can’t have children.”
Oh, some of the most destructive work I have done is in trying to rebuild my husband. I have often tried to repair the man I married – you know, to make him better. I tried to get him to take college courses when we were first married. Tried to get him to find a better job throughout our marriage. Tried to get him to wear the clothes I bought so he would fit the image I had in my head. I tried to block schedule his days at one point in our young married life to include all the activities I thought he needed to participate in. And let’s face it, all I was conveying to him is that he wasn’t good enough and I was. It was a lie then and is just as much of a lie now.
And three years ago, I tried to fix something major in myself without the One who called me His child. As a firm believer in Christ, I turned by back on the healing power of Jesus and tried to force my healing. In those deepest darkest moments when I did not know how to handle the pain, instead of waiting for the One who could fix it all to shine His light in the darkness, I sought relief from the end of a needle. One of the hardest things to accept is that I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I did not care. I was too tired and hurting too badly to wait for God to bring the relief that I know He would never withhold from His child. Instead of waiting for God to show me how to walk in the darkness, waiting for Him to shine His light, I tried to find (or was it to make?) my own light. Foolishness. I know. Jesus says that He is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. (See John 14:16).
I couldn’t make my own light…shoot, I couldn’t even be my own light. Jesus is THE LIGHT. I needed Him in my darkness, but I grew tired of waiting. We have one of those old fluorescent lights in the kitchen, the kind that flickers and wanes sometimes before it comes on. That light I often grow impatient with and I try all kinds of things to make it turn on in my time, before it has sufficiently warmed up. I flip the switch on rapidly, run my hand along the bulb, gently tap it, and anything else my impatient self tells me might have some effect. Now, I am not saying that Jesus needs to warm up or that he is weak like that, but my point is, nothing I do makes that light come on until it is fully ready. And that is so much like Jesus, nothing I do will be light apart from Him. I can’t make my own light. I can’t be my own light…and I can’t make Jesus shine His light into my darkness without inviting Him and waiting expectantly for Him to rescue me in His time.
I can make all kinds of excuses for why I failed to wait for Jesus, the Expert Craftsman, but they don’t matter. What really matters is that my failure ruined really good things in my life. Like those do-it-yourself catastrophes in the home, I had created a mess that I was incapable of fixing on my own. I needed to return to the Expert Craftsman, follow Him quietly and submit to His teaching.
Jesus did step into my darkness. He did not leave me in the mess that I made. Instead, just like the expert steps into the do-it-yourself mess and walks the homeowner through the process of fixing his house, God sent Jesus to step into my mess. He walks through the mess with me and little by little, is redeeming all my mistakes, replacing the lies and the darkness with His truth and light. That thought that I was never good enough that I have battled my entire life? Jesus took it, tore it down brick by brick and rebuilt it with the Truth that in Him, I am holy, righteous, redeemed, made fully acceptable. He is my good enough. That lie that I was somehow guilty for the childhood abuse that I withstood? He kicked that lie down, and rebuilt it with the truth that I was innocent. He is the One who decides whether or not I am guilty. He marks me innocent. That false belief that my use of drugs as a follower of Jesus was beyond His grace, He spoke through His Word of Truth and caused to crumble. He replaced it with the Truth that He has covered even the sins I willing commit when I am walking with Him.
What about you? Are there any areas in your life that you have tried to fix yourself, without Jesus? Are you ready to surrender to the Master Craftsman Jesus and invite Him to tear down the broken walls you have tried to build on your own? Are you willing to let Him establish you in truth? If so, I encourage you to join Bible study group, join a 12 step recovery group that supports your faith, find a godly friend who is willing to walk with you through the difficulty and speak Truth. Pray. Seek God.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (New American Standard Bible)
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” Psalm 38:23 (New American Standard Bible)