Know what the soundtrack of my life is right now? The rhythm of a nail gun and the whine of a power saw. Yep, we’re in the middle of a renovation project that’s got me living out my HGTV dreams.
I was telling a friend, though, that at first, every day seemed like “demo day,” with more being demolished than was being built. That can feel discouraging at the time. My Hurricane Harvey survivor friends, BLESS YOU! You have lived with that kind of noise, chaos, and uncertainty for months, trying to remember when you didn’t have to walk through curtains of heavy plastic or rinse a layer of sawdust off your dishes.
You’ve been smack dab in the messy middle.
But for others, maybe your “messy middle” is another kind of hurricane like lay-offs, divorce, family drama, or illness. Or perhaps a deep, pervasive sin has been uncovered, your own or someone else’s, and the atomic fallout feels relentless.
If you’re in the messy middle, whether that turmoil was from a good thing (like my planned home project) or a bad thing (like a real or metaphorical hurricane), here are three encouragements Jesus offers to guide us through.
1. The Way: In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He encourages his disciples on the night before his death that though they are about to enter a messy middle of betrayal, confusion, and loss, he is still the way to their true home with the Father. He gives them a glimpse of what is on the other side of the messy middle, when he will have defeated sin and death and will send his Holy Spirit to fill them so that they will not be “left as orphans” (14:18). He wants them to follow Him into deep relationship. He is the way, and just as he did with his disciples, Jesus gives us glimpses of what’s on the other side of our “messy middles” so we don’t lose hope: perhaps a hint of progress with a difficult relationship, encouragement from a friend on the other side of her own illness, or promises from His word that fill us with inexplicable hope.
I love, though, that he doesn’t just end his statement with “I am the way.” He is also “the truth and the life,” and that’s what Jesus has been showing me in the midst of this reno project.
2. The Truth: Right now my house feels noisy, chaotic, and unsettled as sledgehammers and power tools get to work. The truth is that a lot of old stuff has to be removed before new building can happen. In our lives, too, often good change can’t begin until we come face-to-face with obstacles and hard truths. But Jesus says He IS the truth—we never have to face anything alone because whatever truth He’s revealing is inseparable from His love for us. We can trust Him with the truth, even if it feels painful. He also says that if we cling to His teaching, we will “know the truth, and truth will set [us] free” (John 8:31-32).
3. The Life: Thankfully, “Demo Day” is only part of the project. Once the old stuff has been reduced to rubble and carted away, renovation can begin. “Renovation” literally means to make new again, and that word is the perfect illustration of what happens on the inside of us as Christ’s life-giving Spirit rebuilds and renews us. I’ve found that when I’m going through a time of internal renovation, I have to be diligent to focus on Jesus as the Life-Giver. I experience His joyful, peaceful, powerful life by spending time in nature and with people who make me laugh, getting together regularly with mature believers for prayer, engaging in worship by myself and with others, and meditating on scriptures about who God is and what He’s promised us.
So what about you? What messy middle are you in? You are not alone, and the same Jesus who encourages us that he is IS the way, the truth, and the life, also gives us this gift no matter what we’re facing:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
For more tips for hanging on to peace and joy in the messy middle, check out these posts, too: