Work in Progress

As I promised last week in my blog post I am having my staff doing some guest blogging on my site. I am so blessed to work with some of the most passionate and creative people on the planet. Over the next few weeks you will have a opportunity to get to know them and their heart for the things of God.

Written by Jesse Mahannah, Elementary School Pastor, NewSpring Church

JesseMahannahWe bought a house! My wife and I are first-time home buyers and we found the perfect house that had literally everything on our wish list. Well…almost. Everything except a working bathroom…and okay, maybe a functional kitchen…and it did have wood floor but it had to be refinished. Alright, so we may have bought a fixer-upper! Of course most people would say that renovating is a lot of work. Now throw in our 18-month-old, high-energy, all-attitude, do-it-herself, miss-independent of a daughter and you have an interesting combination. But the amount of work ahead of us didn’t slow us down, we dove straight in! You can blame ambition or ignorance, but either way we were excited about a reno project we could work on together.

It might sound weird to get excited about sheetrock and sawdust, and I guess it kind of is, but I think it honestly is a little bit bigger than the renovation. I don’t know if I could’ve nailed down exactly what got us so excited about the prospect of a large project to begin with, but as we’ve continued working I think I understand a little bit more now where our excitement comes from. One time in particular stands out to me. For me to work on the house safely, my wife would entertain our daughter in what would eventually be her bedroom with a baby gate separating both of them from the worksite warzone. This particular time however, Elizabeth, our daughter, thought the best use of her time would be to stand at the baby gate, shaking it back and forth, and yelling “Daddy” at the top of her lungs over and over again. While endearing, I knew that she was ready to run through the house yelling and having fun. That was one of the harder parts of working with Elizabeth; she wanted to run through the house and it just wasn’t ready for her yet. That was hard for her to understand.

As I cut the sheetrock, there was a moment of clarity for me that seems to accompany most of my parenting. My first thought was, “Even though this is frustrating for her, I can’t wait when everything is finished for her.” And then I thought, “I wonder if this is how God feels?” I laughed to myself. See, my wife and I had dreamed about this home for years. We had talked about every detail, debating pros and cons for hours. For Elizabeth it was just too hard to picture. (I should probably cut her a break–she’s only 18 months old!) She didn’t see that the old carpet would be replaced with a finished hardwood that would be fun to slip and slide on in her socks. She didn’t see the spot by the crumbling closet where her toy chest would sit. She didn’t see the place underneath the drafty window that would be perfect for Mommy and Daddy to read to her before bed. She couldn’t see it yet. And that was okay. I laughed at the image it must look like for God when I get upset at something that’s really just a work in progress. It’s probably similar to a toddler shaking a baby gate.

See sometimes I ask God questions about messes in my life and I’m quite sure that my Heavenly Father can’t help but smile and think, “He just can’t quite see it yet.” I’m positive that there are times when I stand at what I see as an impenetrable obstacle and scream and holler and God waits on the other side preparing something amazing for me. I know from experience that those moments when I feel like I’m the messiest I’ve ever been and can never be cleaned up, he has a plan to make me more like his Son. Just as it was true for the prophet Jeremiah it’s true for me and you that “before [God] formed you in the womb [he] knew you” (Jer. 1:5).

Don’t get frustrated that you can’t see God’s plan; he’s been planning it for years. And don’t get frustrated if you or your kids or your life seems to be a mess. It’s like Paul told the Philippians to be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Ph. 1:6).

What stood out to me that day wasn’t just the realization that God has a plan for me. It was the joy that accompanies my plan for Elizabeth. I’m not excited about sheetrock dust and late nights working just because I’m glutton for punishment. I’m excited to prepare a place just right for my daughter and my wife. How much more excited should I be that my Heavenly Father doesn’t just have a plan for me, but for Sarah and Elizabeth as well and for you too? That’s what I love about NewSpring Church. We don’t act like we’ve got it all together. And in KidzWorld we most certainly understand that you and your kids are going to have good days and bad days. Our thrill is when we can come alongside families and help them–help them see that their Heavenly Father is absolutely nuts about them and that he has a plan that is perfect for them! And even though there are going to be messes or surprises that might not be part of the design, our Heavenly Father is well equipped to handle all of our works in progress.

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