He led me down the stairs and to his room where we stopped in front of a large blue puddle. This explained the lowered eyes and sunken shoulders. It was the brand new can of admiral blue wall paint we had just purchased for his room- the majority of its contents now covering a board game sized section of the floor. With calm severity I looked at him, “Take your sister to her room. Close the door and play with her until I am finished cleaning this up.” There was no hesitation.
Normally, a blunder of this nature would have detonated my rage bomb; A condescending glare, followed by a lecture and stern consequences with aftershocks of sighing and a generally annoyed demeanor. All the while my internal monologue would be plagued with questions as to “why he would do such a thing to me” and “how I could have so clearly missed the mark in raising him.” But not this time. Too much Truth had saturated my own soul for the fuse to light. Instead, as I gathered the needed supplies to repair the damage, two things were reaffirmed to me.
One: Our greatest weaknesses are usually just our greatest strengths in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
In truth, this was the second time that morning the boy had said “come see” and led me by the hand. His younger brother had crawled into bed with me as our household began to stir for the day. Instead of joining us he said “wait here!” and was off busy doing something. A few minutes later he returned. “Okay, this is going to take me about ten more minutes.” Again, he was gone, returning with a snack for me and two of the other children. “Um, maybe it will be a little longer than ten minutes.”
After another forty minutes he appeared with the words “come see!” on his lips and his hand outstretched for mine. He led me down the hall and reaching the end, my suspicions were confirmed (after all he had deposited several armfuls of stuff into my bedroom as I waited). He had cleaned the entire upstairs. It was mommy clean!- The kitchen counters were completely clear, as well as the table which had been washed. The floor was free of all toys and books which he had placed neatly in their homes. Now a days worth of cleaning was done and I hadn’t even left my bed!
And it was that same servant-leader spirit that had led him to the can of paint. If he could clean a house well then, he could certainly paint a wall right?! I scanned to make sure there was no spots that I had missed, placed the lid on the remainder of the paint and stood to my feet with a smile. Such a good heart.
Two: There is Mercy in the mess.
I walked into the next bedroom.
He braced himself.
“Son… I see your heart. I know you were trying to help.”
His frame loosened.
“What is the difference between obedience and disobedience sometimes?”
“Next time you want to help with something that is not yours could you please ask me first.”
And that is where that mess ended. Both physically and emotionally for both of us. No shame. No residue.
Life seldom goes how we would like, or even how it should, but God is merciful. Had that can spilled four feet to the south I would have had admiral blue carpet and a much harder job cleaning the mess (not to mention keeping my cool). Not that God’s mercy is mere earthly conveniences but rather that God’s mercy is so vast it includes them. That not only does He bear all it costs to adopt me in my unruly, ungrateful state but in fathering me also regards the frailty of my frame. I believe His sovereignty saw fit to let that paint spill but His mercy determined where. And in receiving the mercy He lavishes on me- in both big and small ways- I find I have it to give to others.
Especially, little children, who sometimes make the most inconvenient of messes for the most noble of reasons.