Goodness and Mercy Follow Me {30 Days of Gratitude, In the Middle, FOR the Middle}

(The original, or a print of this piece is available here)

As much as I'd like to believe that I am one who follows through on my every task and committment, when I read the fine print of my days, I see much left unfinished. Another unpleasant characteristic of being "in the middle" is that everything you've left undone sort of sits and stares at you.

In point of fact, I could write a book, all of it in fine print, about things I've left undone - let's don't even include things I've done wrong! I've made messes, big and small, some as a result of my doing, others a result of leaving important things undone.

All my messes require clean-up. So do all of yours.

Some years ago, back when my nest was completely full, I was patrolling the house before leaving for church. Everyone else had left, so I was the last to dash out the door, and lock up.

Since someone usually ended up coming home from church with us, I wanted to make sure, for about the third time, that various rooms were as charming and trash-free as I had left them the last time I had checked them,  a mere half an hour before.


To my distinct displeasure, I found a plate with crumbleys all over it, a glass with a half inch of milk in the bottom, and...of all things....an empty soda bottle. Where did it all come from, and who did it, and how did it materialize so quickly? I fell upon the mess, as a warrior to the battle.

"In the Zone" does not begin to describe me, when I am intent on straightening up things. I'll automatically pour out Tim's tea before he is through, and put the glass in the dishwasher. I'll sweep around the feet of my family, while I dust the coffee table with the other hand, and put a stray book away with my toes. Honestly, all this is mostly mindless, and done without the first complaint. Ask any of my kids. I do it without realizing I am "working". I am almost always "working", and since that is the case, it is rather nice that 99% of it is hard-wired into my psyche, and thus doesn't bother me. I couldn't "not do it" if I tried.


This particular morning, however, I heard myself grumbling out loud to myself. I said, "I am so tired of following behind people in this house, cleaning up their mess."


It was then I experienced one of God's "suddenlies". Suddenly, He spoke. When He speaks suddenly, it cuts through the static. It arrests my attention.


He said: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life."


No exaggeration, I hit my knees, right by the kitchen sink, and tears flowed in an instant. (How lovely to have been alone, just then, because I think I couldn't have NOT worshipped. Such divine wisdom, such understanding and love displayed to me could not have gone unacknowleged. I was late to church that day.)


I hadn't even realized that I'd been subconsciously toting a heavy load of "undone's" and "not-done-right's". I had left what I felt to be a few messes behind, figuratively speaking. I was in desperate need of a Father who loved me so much, He was willing to allow His goodness and mercy to come behind me and clean up. What is the mercy of God for, if it is not at the point of my need, the place of My Mess?


I wanted a God who was that good, but I almost dared not believe it. That is a God too good to be true, in my graceless mind. A God so good to me, that sometimes He would not even be upset at me for a mess. Surely, He said,  His goodness and mercy would follow me, and simply clean it up.

Oh, how many times had that already happened, and I didn't even realize it? Just as, I promise you,  not one member of my family realized that I cleaned up a mess for him or her that morning.


I certainly don't want to associate the beautiful, scandalous cross of Christ with a few breakfast crumbs. But facts are, the blood of Jesus covers it ALL - the large and the small messes. The cross is the only clean-up, the only solution. A mess is a mess is a mess, and small messes become life altering if left to accumulate.


Thank you, Jesus, for your goodness and mercy, following this mess called "Me"....all the days of my life. How I need You!
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