I thought one of his brothers had uncharacteristically socked him in the jaw or he had run into something sharp that caused a deep gash in his flesh. Instead of bringing me a tattle-tale or a tall bloody scar, Justus brought me this:
This is a medallion tangled up in a necklace with a cross pendant, “the cross of Jesus,” Justus likes to say. He didn’t mention the cross this time; he just screamed and handed me this knotted mess, wanting me to take care of it. I assured him that with some time I would be able to untangle the mess, that he didn’t have to cry and that he would be able to enjoy each piece once I separated them.
I was working on the medallion and pendant for several minutes as Justus kept coming back to me to see if I had finished. “I’m still working, trying to see how you got these tangled up so I’ll know what I need to do to get them apart.” Almost giving up several times and pointing him to something else to occupy his time, I decided to continue to follow the paths of the loops. Once I saw how one loop had formed, I was able to do the opposite to untangle that part and continued the pattern until all the loops were untangled and the medallion and pendant were separated. When I followed the pattern, I was able to untangle the mess.
As I considered Justus’ cries about the tangled mess he caused and how the complicated entanglement made me want to stop helping him, I thought about how we treat people who come to us with their tangled messes. We scold them because we can’t “see how you got (this) so tangled up.” We consider giving up on them and referring them elsewhere. We get tired of being bothered with such a mess that they kept trying to handle on their own to the point where it seems like the cross of Jesus can’t even be effective for them. The depths of people’s messes keep us from taking the time to love them like we are told to love them.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.—Galatians 6:1
We are quick, like I was with Justus, to point the finger to the making of the mess, fussing about the mess instead of focusing mainly on the mess and how to avoid another one. But we are commanded to restore, which means to be brought back to the right way through correction. Fussing serves to shame another; correcting serves to restore another. When we follow the pattern of Scripture, we are able to untangle all the loops of a messy situation. When we do so, we are in the position to help restore those who need restoration. We are in the restoration business so this week let’s seek to handle our business.
Take a Risk Challenge: Let us seek to restore someone who is in a tangled mess, no matter how challenging the mess is. Doing so is truly a radical act of love.
My One Thousand Gifts List
Hearing Nichole on the radio discussing her vision for her new job
Mama watching the boys so I could attend Joshua’s honors ceremony
Attending Joshua’s honors ceremony where he got awards for scholarship and reciting his times tables up to 9 in three minutes or less
Watching Nate squeal with excitement to be able to fill the watering can and water the flowers
Finding earthly and spiritual treasure with Nate in the backyard
Smelling fried chicken
Anger shown toward my husband revealing an area where I need to grow
Breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked by 2 p.m.
Justus sitting well and not crying while I was on the chiropractic table
Nate asking me to look for bugs and worms with him