Updated on June 30, 2017
When life is like a pile of Legos
Please tell me that you have one of these piles at your house too? I banned screen time last week because I say things I don’t mean and then am forced to follow through with them. So this has been my reward. Legos, multiplying on their own. I herd the little one into the playroom this morning and insist. CLEAN. UP. NOW. OR ELSE. Behavior management at its finest.
And so in true youngest child fashion, he whines, stomps and pouts before finally relenting. “It looks like there was an earthquake in Legoland,” he comments as he begins to gather the pieces. “How am I ever going to figure out what these things are supposed to be?” He’s pulling out parts of old Lego sets. Ones that took hours of concentration and instruction reading to build have now been reduced to mere shadows of their former selves. A half built Toys R Us truck, an airplane missing both wings and its middle, battle torn Star Wars ships and millions of little figures, empty arms posed in awkward positions hopeful that their tiny tools might be returned.
And my little guy can’t clean. He is too distraught by all of the Lego carnage and searches frantically for the hundreds of instruction books he would need to rebuild the pile.
He can see the outline of what the pieces used to be, and he is overcome with this longing to return them to their original glory.
But the mess is overwhelming.
“I don’t think that this is ever going to make anything again,” he laments holding up discombobulated parts that refuse to fit back together. Yeah.
And oh, how I get his frustration. Maybe you’ve been there too? In the middle of a mess, realizing that life has knocked the shape right out of you and you’re not sure if the scattered pieces will ever go back together again. As a card carrying perfectionist, I have spent many days building visions of how things should work only to watch them be deconstructed in the daylight of reality. From the way I believe my kids should behave to the way I think Jesus should show up in my day, I have been known to push pieces hard into all the places, just praying for the appearance of a perfect product.
I watch the little one attempt to reconstruct the plane. It isn’t working. He has no idea which pieces go where.
“What if you just start over?” I ask. “What if you take all of these scattered pieces and build something new, something that hasn’t been built before?”
He looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. “That’s not how Legos work, mom,” he protests. “We are just going to have to get new ones.”
Because clearly that’s the answer. We need more Legos in this house. I survey the mess and the distraught Lego builder and contemplate what’s next.
“Behold I am making all things new…” (Revelation 21:5). Words I just read echo in my head. And I remember what a commentator wrote about that same verse. “God does not make all new things, but all things new” (M.E. Boring). What? But, slowly, I am starting to see the difference.
Like my little guy, I can be so quick to declare that I just need new things. I want a new relationship instead of struggling through a broken one. I want new finances instead of walking through difficult ones. I want a new heart, one that doesn’t hurt so much and I want all the messy things in life simply set back in their perfect place. Scattered and broken things undo me.
I lower myself to the floor next to my frustrated eight year old and quietly begin sifting through broken pieces, attempting to fit them together in a new way. The work is slow and painstaking because not all of the pieces are made to go with each other. But as we work, I begin to see a different vision.
What if in the breaking, God is really making things new? What if in the way things appear to be falling apart, they are actually being put back together?
New creations, I tell the cranky heart of my little guy. Look for what might be, I whisper as I comb through the pile on the floor. Look for what could come from all of this mess.
It goes against everything in me, but sometimes the best thing I can do with a my mess is hand it over to the only One who can see possibility in it.
Sometimes I have to let go of my need to fix everything before I let God have it.
Because here’s a truth I often forget. Unlike my eight year old Lego expert, God is not overwhelmed by the pile. He is not a God who simply makes new things when the old ones fall apart. No. He takes the very pieces of our busted stuff, our beat up hearts and he makes all things new, in him.
He can see the outline of the glory we are made to reflect, and he longs to restore us to that image; piece by piece; day by day; moment by moment. We only need to be willing to hand it over.
“Behold I am making all things new! Then he said, write this down for these words are trustworthy and true … I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 21:5- 6).