The Standard January 7, 2021
On the last Sunday of last year Rick Bailey preached his final sermon as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmville. In honor of his many years of fine service there and with other congregations, the morning ended with a slideshow set to a sweet song written by Jamie Slocum. The lyrics were appropriate not only for the end of a lengthy pastoral call, but also for the twists, turns, bumps and roadblocks of 2020.
“A sunburned face and weathered hands, he stretches out the nets again. He steps among the twisted lines and works them out in his good time. Sometimes I picture God that way, untangling all the mess I’ve made, unraveling my lines so I can fish again one day. Sometimes I picture God that way.
Her tender hands pull tangles loose, from gum in hair to knots in shoes. With her quilter’s skill and a mother’s joy, she frees the little girls and boys. Sometimes I picture God that way, untangling all the mess I’ve made, unraveling my kite so I can fly again one day. Sometimes I picture God that way.
Sometimes I picture God that way, untangling all the mess I’ve made, unraveling my darkest nights to weave a brand-new day. Sometimes I picture God that way.”
There are any number of causes for the mess in our lives. At times it is one extreme or the other: personal pride or belittling ourselves, laziness or a hyper work ethic, failing to keep ourselves in good physical shape or exalting fitness and nutrition to the place of ultimate importance. Seeking our own glory, spending too much money, gossiping, placing our trust in things, turning a blind eye to the hardships of others or being impatient are just a few examples of additional things which might entangle us. Of course, there are also numerous factors outside of our control which make life extremely messy, as COVID-19 has highlighted.
Whether the difficulties in our current circumstances have been caused mostly by ourselves or by outside factors, the good news is that God will straighten out our mess enough for us to be used for good. The perfect Son of God entered a fallen world, lived as a human and empathizes with our plight. Although our lives never will be perfect, if we maintain our focus through all of the ups and downs, God will be glorified. As Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
May these beautiful words from the Prophet Isaiah bring us hope in the new year. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (Isaiah 40:1-5)