When Life Gets Messy

lhStan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were known for their slapstick comedy, and they appeared in many films from 1926 to 1944.  The signature dialogue in their scripts was the disdainful comment: Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.

I know I’ve gotten myself into many fine messes, and when my life has been a wild mess, God’s taken me to the wilderness to get my attention. In fact, this is an underlying theme of the Old Testament: God intervenes in the wild messes of life.

No one likes to be taken to be taken to the woodshed, but there are times when God disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). God does this to, instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8).

I’ve come to realize that some of my problems are self-inflicted due to the poor choices I make; but, it is also true that I’ve been an innocent bystander caught-up in the circumstances of life. Like Joseph, we need to realize that God can be at work; and, we need to take an eternal perspective on life: As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day (Genesis 50:20).

While it’s hard to see the silver lining in the dust clouds of the desert, when we learn to trust God, we eventually make it to promised land and enjoy His blessings.

Jacob as an individual and Israel as a whole learned this lesson:

He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, guarding him as the apple of his eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young. Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly. God alone led him; there was not a foreign god in sight. God lifted him onto the hilltops, so he could feast on the crops in the fields. He fed him honey from the rock, oil from granite crags, curds of cattle and the milk of sheep, the choice cuts of lambs and goats, fine rams, high-quality wheat, and the blood of grapes: you drank good wine! ~Isaiah 32:10-14 (The Message)

Because the messes of life will either define you or refine you, I’ve learned to ask a question:  What can I learn from this?  Then I make the decision to trust God, and I’m confident that He is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan (Romans 8:28).

Hero to Zero or When the Worst Becomes the Best

zeroMost of us have experienced those horrible moments of life when nothing makes sense, and we find ourselves searching for answers and questioning God. I believe the Apostle Paul had these kind of experiences in mind when he wrote: “For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known (I Corinthians 13:12).”

Eugene Orowitz had a hero to zero experience, and he is a good example of what Paul was saying. Orowitz was a scrawny 140-pounder who had more interest in books than he did in athletics. One day Orowitz was watching some of the other guys throw a javelin, so he thought he would give it a try. His first throw was a winner, travelling 40 feet farther than his nearest competitor.

His ability to throw the javelin increased to the point that Orowitz held the national high school record. His athleticism eventually earned him a scholarship to the University of Southern California, but everything changed one day when he failed to warm up before an event. Orowitz felt a sharp pain in his shoulder, and he knew something was wrong. The shoulder injury ended his Olympic dreams and cost him his scholarship at USC.

Later, Orowitz would say this was the worst day of his life. Since he was no longer attending college, he tried to make ends meet by selling blankets, working as a stock boy, and unloading freight cars at a warehouse.

Orowitz said the worst day of his life became the best day when he went to an audition and landed a spot in an acting school. Orowitz thought a name change might help his acting career, so he changed his name to Michael Landon.

If he had never experienced the worst moment, injuring his shoulder, he never would have lived the wonderful life of Michael Landon, nor would he have acted in roles as Little Joe on Bonanza or Charles in Little House on the Prairie.

When you give your life to God, He can change your worst moments into the best. Why not give it a try.