You know those days—or weeks or months—when you speak to your heart in frustration, saying, “get it together” as you glare at your mess? Your mess of discouragement and tears. Or your mess of over-indulgence and its unwelcome consequences. Or your mess of over-commitment and the stress of an intense schedule, or of crossing those boundaries with your boyfriend (again), or of your short fuse and hot temper with your family, or of secretly partying on the weekends. Or a unique combination of those and more.
Portions of your heart feel like an untended, overgrown garden with weeds tangling and choking all the fragile growth. And other portions of your heart have shriveled up like grass in a dry wasteland. You don’t know whether to address the cracked desert or the thick overgrowth, but you do know for certain that they both fall into the mess category.
So get it together, you say again.
Stop doing this, start doing that, you groan to your soul. Fall in line. Get better. Figure this out. Make something happen.
But the same failures persist, and the same messes only get messier.
And as long as we keep snapping at ourselves or even pleading with ourselves, the weeds will just get thornier, and the cracked desert soil will get thirstier.
Because we aren’t the sorter of our souls. Jesus does the sorting. It’s up to us to do the surrendering.
Blessed be the LORD!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him. (Ps. 28:6–7)
As long as I stay mad at myself for my mess—my jumble of disappointments and hurts, my failure to uphold my commitments, my scattered brain, the bitterness choking my joy—the mess will remain.
I can condemn my screwups. I can tell myself that I’m better than this and push for a better tomorrow. I can determine to clean up this mess and vow to never allow the likes of it to return. But it will. Because I am not a Master Weeder or a soul-quenching rain that waters my own spirit.
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God. (Ps. 42:1–2)
I need Jesus.
And in your mess, you need Jesus.
Sort me out, Jesus, I pray. Because there’s too much there for me to handle. And You’re the only One who can.
He can sort out our tangled emotions and remind us of what’s true, steady, and unchanging—Himself (Ps. 61:1–3, 121; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).
He can uncover our sin and free us from its chains and supply rest in what truly satisfies—Himself (John 8:31–38; Gal. 5:1; Ps. 62:1–2, 107:9).
He can clear our minds to face what has shaken our souls and lavishes courage to hang onto the genuine source of confidence—Himself (Prov. 3:26; Ps. 10:17, 71:5, 138:3).
He can make crooked paths straight and mend broken hearts and heal gaping wounds and dry tears—tears that He sees with compassionate eyes (Heb. 12:12–13; Ps. 56:8, 147:3).
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD. (Ps. 40:1–3)
He offers all this and more, and yet we often opt to scold ourselves for messy hearts. Our pride says, “I made this mess. No one should know about it, so I’ll clean it up before anyone sees.” But we lack the long-lasting cleaning tools.
Jesus wants to sort us out. He wants to pull the weeds, prune the vines, and trim the overgrowth. He desires to water the cracked and dusty soil and to plant new seeds. He wants to harvest fresh growth.
So we say, in the middle of our mess, sort me out, Jesus.
Show me what’s sin, show me what’s hurting, show me where I need to let go. And show me what to cling to.
In your non-stop, running-from-one-thing-to-the-next day, ask Jesus to sort you out.
In your trial-filled day, when pain seems to be dumped upon you, ask Jesus to sort you out.
In your I-failed-again day, when all you want is for temptation to leave you alone, ask Jesus to sort you out.
In your emotional day, when feelings are smacking you from the right and then from the left, ask Jesus to sort you out.
Because only He can peel away our layers, show us truth, heal our hurts, and satisfy our souls.
In your mercy and your grace and your love, sort us out, Jesus.
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail. (Isa. 58:11)