Devotional

Messy Work

Renovating an old farmhouse is exciting! I love dreaming and planning, choosing colors and styles, and watching the finished product come together. Making repairs, updating styles, and freshening up the paint help make the house our own as well as improve its value! There is satisfaction in sprucing things up and making them our own. But it is messy work!

It seem like I am constantly dusting, sweeping, mopping, and putting things away, but the mess always seems to come back. It’s not just a day to day chore, but often hour by hour, or even minute by minute. I get frustrated, yet I keep reminding myself that the mess is a good thing, because it is a sign that things are getting accomplished.

Each mess means that my farmhouse is one step closer to being transformed. It is one step closer to becoming the way we want it. Broken things are being repaired, space is becoming better suited to our needs and the style is becoming uniquely our own. The overall value of the house is improving.

Painting

One of the first projects we tackled was painting the walls before we moved in. Painting is a relatively easy task, but my least favorite part is prepping the walls. We removed outlet and light covers, made sure all nails and screws were taken out, and began patching holes and imperfections. Then came the sanding – the very dusty and messy sanding! Dust settled on the walls, on the floor, in the window sills, and on us.

We quickly vacuumed and swept the messy space and began the more satisfying process of applying paint. I love to see the fresh color covering the walls and adding new life to a room! But that means drop cloths, stir sticks, paint brushes, rollers, and paint cans. Oh how I despise stuff on the floor! Time to clean up again!

Laying laminate flooring in the dining room and kitchen was our next big project. We began by, you guessed it, cleaning up the room! We removed all objects from the room and began tearing up the old flooring. More dust. We swept and vacuumed the floor again. Next we opened the packages of flooring, scattering boxes, papers, and plastic all over the place. Then came the cutting of the boards to make them fit – saw dust!

Flooring

Each day we fit, cut, and laid boards. And each evening we swept, mopped, and cleaned up the mess, only to do it all again the next day. It seemed unending.

I won’t describe in detail every project that we have tackled, but I will tell you that we have spend the past three months cutting, hammering, mudding, sanding, painting, and more. Our house has been strewn with dust, tarps, paint cans, and tools.

Necessary Messes

It seems like we have done nothing but make messes. However, the messes are necessary in order to make the changes we need and want to make. Each time I walk through a room and find that my socks are covered in sawdust or notice all the mess lying on the floor, I remind myself that good things are happening.

In order for our house to become better, there must be some messes made. Sometimes one thing has to be torn apart in order to replace it with something better. Imperfections need to be sanded away. Tools need to be kept nearby.

Often times we dig into what we think will be a simple job, only to find out that it is way bigger than what we expected. On the surface it looks like a simple fix, but once we look closer, we find that there are deeper problems underneath.

We do all of this messy work in order to make our house look better, work better, and to increase its value. If we left things as they were, we would still be able to live in our house, but it would never become better. As a matter of fact, it would eventually fall apart.

The Messy Work of Ministry

Investing in the renovation of our farmhouse reminds me of ministry. While investing in a house is a good financial investment, investing in people is a good eternal investment.

Ministry is about investing in lives and making them better. And just like renovating a house, ministry can be messy work. If it’s not messy, then you probably aren’t doing it right.

When I say ministry, I am not just referring to pastors and Sunday school teachers. I am referring to every single church member whether young or old, male or female. We are all part of a ministry and are responsible for reaching out to each other.

Investing in people might mean you find out things that you never wanted to know. You will begin to see their imperfections and discover that some parts of their lives are broken. You might find that they are not as squeaky clean as their Sunday morning outfits make them appear to be.

Reaching out to Others

As you seek to minister to others you will find people who don’t look like you, talk like you, act like you, or even think like you.

You will likely get involved with people who struggle with debilitating diseases, mental illness, or even addiction. Others may have struggling marriages or rebellious children. Young people may be dealing with eating disorders, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts.

The work will be hard and messy at times, but the investment will be worth it as you walk alongside others and help carry their burdens. People will be blessed as you meet practical needs and you help them learn, grow, and become more like Christ.

Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” God didn’t intent for us to navigate our spiritual battles alone. We are to help bear each other’s burdens. This can be done through listening, praying, meeting practical needs, or directing a person to someone who can better meet specific needs.

Bear One Another’s Burdens

Romans 15:1 gives us even further instruction, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Have you ever found yourself not wanting to get involved? (I mean, think of the mess!)? Do you make excuses such as you don’t have time or you have your own problems to deal with? (Sometimes these are legitimate reasons and sometimes they are just excuses!) Have you made the excuse that the situation is awkward or you wouldn’t know what to do?

Stop making excuses and reach out! A simple hug or an “I’m praying for you” can make a big difference. A practical need met can go a long way. Just listening for a few minutes without offering advice or judgment can ease some stress for a struggling person.

God’s plan is for the strong to lift up the weak. The beauty of this is that I might be the strong one this time and the next time I might be the weak one. We are to walk this Christian journey together, helping each other along.

Never Ending Work

As every home owner as well as every person involved in ministry comes to realize, the work is never done. When you live in a house, things constantly need to be fixed, improved or even replaced. Things wear out, break, and become outdated. In order to keep your investment up, improvements always have to be made.

In ministry, there are always struggling, hurting people. Someone always has a need. Most needs are complicated and not going to be fixed with one kind gesture.

Both investing in a house and investing in people can be discouraging, yet rewarding. Sometimes projects take more work than you expect. Sometimes people take more time than you expect. Often a job won’t turn out the way you wanted it to. And people won’t always respond the way you want them to. But that doesn’t mean we should give up and fail to try.

Treasures in Heaven

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Investing in an old farmhouse, or any house, falls under the category of laying up treasures on earth. It is important for us to take care of the earthly treasures that God has blessed us with. We should keep our belongings in good repair and keep them looking nice. It is part of taking care of our families and being a good testimony before others. However, that should not be all consuming. We must focus our most important work on eternal treasures.

Investing in people’s lives is what will ultimately count for Christ. That is laying up treasures in heaven. Pointing others to God and helping them focus on Him should come before earthly work. If you are like we are, we want to use our earthly possessions, including our farmhouse to help accomplish that goal.

So roll up your sleeves, dig in and start getting involved in the messy work of life! Your reward in heaven will be worth it!

Wife, mom, grandma, and country girl. I am living by faith and encouraging others to do the same. I integrate faith, family and country living.

2 Comments

  • Kara

    The first home we purchased was a 1920’s cape cod. LOVED that house but, oh my, what a TON of work it was. MESSY work, too. We worked on it steadily for 10 years and then sold it! The transformation of that house reminds me of the transformation God does in us over time…and how he calls us to be working to reach out to others and do all that He has called us to do!

    amidstthebroken.com

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