I decided last week to paint the porch a brighter color. I picked a teal color simply because of all the half-used paint cans in my collection, I liked this one the best. Without a whole lot of careful preparation, I just got up one day and started pulling things down and washing the wood in preparation. Then I started painting.
About half-way through, I decided I wanted my kids to help me. Child labor’s nice and all, but it wasn’t even about that. It was about them sharing in the transformation of our home. I wanted them to be a part of changing things up around here. I asked them if they wanted to help and they both did, so I pulled out a few more brushes and directed both of them to a part of the porch that was specifically “theirs.”
That’s when things got messy.
What I had begun, and been careful in, had suddenly become a little more careless and chaotic. Paintbrushes were whipped about with little to no precision, leaving paint on siding and portions of the walls I didn’t intend for it to ever touch. My porch carpet became a two-toned throwback to nineties paint splatter. And near the finish line, they both called it quits and left me to finish it alone.
Want to know something? I thoroughly anticipated all of this happening. I know my kids well enough to know they are a little less concerned about perfection. They like to enjoy themselves and when the fun wears off, they head off looking for something more entertaining. They’re a little reckless, so the paint everywhere was exactly what I expected. Thank God, I’ve become so chill because my past self could not have handled all of this “help.”
As I stood with my hands on my hip on my fresh-prince carpet, I realized that this is us and our Father, working together on something He could do alone – and undoubtedly do with a lot less of a mess – but He loves to pull us into this work of changing our world. He loves to see the wonder in our eyes and appreciates the joy we receive from it. He knows some of us will get antsy and walk away from the job unfinished, searching for something else to do. He knows we’ll color outside the lines and make His perfect plan look more like a Picasso than a Monet. Still, He hands us a brush and delightfully watches us do our little portion of the work with all our hearts.
I love that about Him. God is so chill. And I love this gentle reminder because I have a judgmental side, and often the Holy Spirit has to remind me that to their own masters, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand (Romans 14:4). Honestly, I can’t tell you who got paint on the carpet, who painted the siding or who left me hanging first. That wasn’t my focus. I appreciated every moment of their time with me, and I chose to focus on what little time I had working beside each of them. I know that one day, our works will be tried by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13). I am learning, however, that Judgment Day is an appointed time, and I don’t want to live in it prematurely, tormenting myself with what God thinks of my pitiful attempts. Nor do I want to live in judgment of others any more. We are all working together toward a common goal, messing things up a little as we go and no doubt, putting a great big smile on God’s face because we have managed to be a little childlike in our feeble attempts to make a difference in the world around us.