Before we moved into our house (a parsonage provided for us by our church) in 2005, it went through an extreme makeover. Having been a rental for nearly 20 years, let's just say it was in need of some updating! One element of that makeover was replacing broken window panes. As a result of that task, we have had an extra sleeve of glass sections in our garage for the past two years. The sleeve of panes isn't in the way or anything, but I always make sure it is stored somewhere level and secure, so it won't drop onto the garage floor. A few weeks ago, I found a good, out-of-the-way shelf for storing it.
This past weekend I spring cleaned my garage: hung up the snow shovels (hopefully for good this time!) pulled the bird bath out of winter storage, and moved the kids' outdoor toys from the back of the garage for easier access. After a good day's work, I put a few steaks on the grill and got ready for a nice family evening. That's when I heard a horrible sound coming the garage. A loud, dreadful sound. Breaking glass. Not just breaking glass, either; shattering glass. The instant I heard it, I knew it was a bad, bad sound.
And what was the source of that sound in my garage? The sleeve of pane glass sections, so carefully perched on just the right shelf, stood no chance of surviving when a stroller fell off a hook and took the entire shelf off its anchors. I stood in disbelief, staring at a million pieces of glass, wondering how in the world I would successfully remove all traces of this accident from the cement floor.
Needless to say, I had a job on my hands.
Cathy suggested that I use my Shop Vac to suction up any leftover shards and specks after my initial sweep. Good idea, I thought. Then I realized that sweeping my garage floor with my Shop Vac would mean crouching in an unnatural position for the better part of an hour as I oh-so-deliberately passed my four-inch wide suction blade over tiny sections of the floor. I wasn't thrilled, but how else to remove those shards and protect my children's soft little feet?
As I worked my way from the back to the front of my garage, swath by tiny swath, two thoughts simultaneously ran through my head: (1) I now know this garage floor about as well as God knows the top of my head. He knows me intimately enough that he has numbered the hairs on my head; I knew that floor well enough to number - and name - each and every crack in it. (2) I hope my neighbors don't think I'm so anal rententive that I always vacuum my garage floor!
A few days of reflecting on last weekend's glass-crashing incident has led me to a couple of spiritual insights I'd like to share with you:
1. I have areas of my life that just don't ever seem to get completely cleaned out. Attitudes, thoughts, and even certain behaviors just keep bouncing back like a stubborn dandelion in the midst of an otherwise spotless lawn. I think I have pulled those shards out, but they were stuck in just a bit deeper than I thought they were, and I didn't get them. Sorry about the mixed metaphor, but the point is this: shards have ways of hiding deep under the surface. I cannot guarantee that my garage floor is 100% clean, even though I covered every square inch of it with high-powered suction. There are cracks in the cement where pieces of glass could have been stuck in such a way that the Shop Vac didn't dislodge them. I think this is what the Apostle Paul was wrestling with in his famous internal debate from Romans 7.
2. My life, like yours, is scattered in a million little pieces (with apologies to James Frey, who, evidently, has a life consisting of only several thousand little pieces and had to make up the rest). While I have no way of keeping track of all those pieces, I have a God who loves me enough to inventory of every single one of them. I mean really... for a God who put the stars in place, knows the number of hairs on my head, and sets the course of every storm and flash of lightning, why would I ever wonder about His ability to control the events of my life? When my life shatters (and make no mistake: in this world, all of our lives will shatter at one point or another), I can rest assured that God knows me and loves me. You see, for as up-close and personal as I got with my garage floor this weekend, carefully suctioning every little crack and crevice I could see, I probably missed something. God, on the other hand, knows all and sees all. He knows me so intimately that Psalm 139:14-16 says He knew me when there was little to know! From the womb to the tomb, God knows every detail of my life.
How do you deal with the shards in your life? Do you try to pull them all out on your own power? How have you let God deal with the messiness of your life? I sure would like to hear from you! Leave a note in the comments section, and we'll talk .
Blessings to you, my friends!