rest for a messy life

November 15th, 2017 | Posted by

I am drawn to magazines like Real Simple and Dwell with all the photographs of minimal homes, tidy yards, organized closets and sleek kitchens. I can look at page after beautiful page of spotless, mess-free spaces bathed in light. I long for that kind of life, but the reality is, I live in various degrees of mess!


Despite my attempts to keep wrinkles smoothed out of the cushions on the family room chairs, or daily wiping down water spots in the kitchen sink, and the tiny splatters from last night’s simmering sauce, they appear time and time again. Every day, the bed needs making, the clothes need washing, the desk needs straightening.


Greg loves to use me in one of his favorite illustrations. He contrasts how I clean with the way he cleans. He will say: I needed to clean my office the other day. It was a mess because I let it go so long, I couldn’t find one square inch of open space on my desk. I hate to clean and put it off until I can’t stand it any longer. On the other hand, my wife Cathe loves to clean. While she’s cooking dinner, she’s cleaning up, washing and putting things away. She is constantly straightening up and organizing! The other day, she made the bed—while I was still in it! That’s the Cathe way of cleaning.


But the reality is, I’m not a terribly organized person. How I wish I was! Anyone who knows me well knows this. I double-book appointments all the time, in spite of setting alerts on my phone. I lose things. I leave things behind. I lose track of time and run late.


I wish my closet looked like it came out of Real Simple . . . and that one miscellaneous drawer most people have? At times, I feel like that’s every drawer in my house!  But that is not the worst of it.


My heart is messy, cluttered, and in constant need of cleansing.


When I take an honest look in my heart and face the mess, I get so discouraged. And discouragement is often compounded by the whisper of the enemy . . . you distracted, messy girl, you better get scrubbing and straighten yourself up, how could God love you?


Here is the truth. I am quite a mess. But because He loves me, I am not the mess I once was. And my desperate cries for Him to, “Wash me! Cleanse me! I can’t do this by myself!” are a good indication that He is.


My grandchildren love to run around barefoot. By the end of the day, the soles of their little feet are so dirty, but they want to jump into my bed. I will say, “Let me see your feet.”  Most of the time they need washing, so I scoop them up, set them on the bathroom counter with their feet in the sink, and run water until it is nice and warm. I get the soap into a sudsy lather and run my hands slowly under the soles of their feet, between each of their little toes. After rinsing and drying off with a towel they’re ready to jump in bed.


Every time I do this, I think of when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.


“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end . . . so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with a towel wrapped around Him” (John 13:1, 4-5 NIV).


He entered into this messy world two thousand years ago to redeem it. He entered into the mess of the manger. Jesus entered into the mess of our lives and He washed us clean. That is the work He began.


Jesus came to clean my mess, and your mess, because we couldn’t do it ourselves.


Matthew Henry’s Commentary reminds me, “It is not humility, but unbelief, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us, or too good news to be true. All those, and those only, who are spiritually washed by Christ, have a part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, He justifies and sanctifies.”


That is good news. So before we have to attack that next mess, let’s rest in that awhile.

  1. Caitlin says:


  2. pam says:

    yes ….amazing….beautiful words …

  3. Vicki Burns says:

    Thank you!
    You have so thoroughly spoken to the ache in my heart. I was literally on the floor with my guitar crying the song, “Change My Heart, O God” just prior to reading this. Thank you for reminding me that He hears.

  4. Eveline Jansen says:

    Thank you for this message. I love your ministry and work. Thank you for your honesty in the article

  5. Susan Nickels says:

    So true! And well said. You too are so blessed with how you share things! Thank you! And may our Glorious Lord bless you and yours!

  6. Christi Robillard says:

    Oh how I love this, and you, Cathe! What would we do if He left us in and to our mess?? Thankful we have been the Good News which is for all “messy” people! Love you ❤️

  7. Holly Allen says:

    Thank you for being so transparent! This article was an answer to prayer for me. Thank you

  8. Roland Hiilkey says:

    Thank you , I really needed to hear this today. Such a beautiful way to understand how much God loves us even though our hearts and lives always seem to be in a mess. We cannot do it alone and the Lord is always with us.

  9. Arleta says:

    Definitely AMEN . Such a beautiful reminder of where my life was, and how so amazingly BLESSED my life is now. I never completely try to forget the awful mess my life was, as it helps me be so very thankful for all that Father God led me through, to be where I am today!!

  10. Karen says:

    Thank you. I needed to hear this today.

  11. Alexandra says:

    Thank you just what I needed x

  12. Jean says:

    So thankful to know that I am not alone! That fourth paragraph is totally me, too! Thank you for the reminder that God loves the mess that I am and that He is willing to “clean me up”” and encourage my heart. I’m reminded on how He speaks to this in His word… “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me” and Romans 12:2 & Titus 3:5.
    Thank you for sharing your life and your heart with us Cathe.

  13. Linda says:

    I too feel like a mess and am always trying to keep up on cleaning etc. Thanks for the reminder of God’s work to clean me and all up.

  14. Eva says:

    Thanks for writing out your experience to encourage other women! Yes indeed, let’s rest in Christ and let Him cleanse and declutter my heart!

  15. Terri Montgomery says:

    Awesome read!!

  16. Nikki says:

    I soo needed this! Thank you!

  17. Joan says:

    I needed that since I am a clean freak. And always ask Jesus to cleanse me once again.

  18. hilda seima says:

    Lord may I be set free from my mess- finances, house, relationships cleanliness order I pray.

    I deal with it even as I receive strength from you Lord.

  19. Karen Griffin says:

    Powerful Teaching!!

  20. Sandra Martinez says:

    This brought tears of gratitude knowing how Good God is to us in our mess. He is faithful and waits patiently while He works in us.

  21. Mary Maul says:

    What is most important is that everyone is happy and enjoy being in your home.Clean is nice also just not worth the stress if everyone is not enjoying life

  22. Brenda Stover says:

    Absolutely inspiring. I’m a mess and so is my house. Thank God, He can clean me up. I fail Him daily, but in remorse, I cry out to God. Thank you, Cathie!!

  23. Robbyn Tucker says:

    My life has felt really messy this past month. I appreciate you sharing. Your kind words are engouraging to me and remind me of the great and wonderful father we share. They lift my spirits and remind me that I am not alone but quite te contrary, I am so loved. Thank you Cathe for being open, for being honest, for sharing.

  24. Ronda Ciesa says:

    Words well spoken. Just a reminder, we don’t live in a perfect world. We are only human. Saved by grace.

  25. Crystal Kaye Tatum says:

    Wow! You hit the nail right on the head on this one! Thank you, thank you!

  26. Mary Helen Quinn says:

    Thank you! I clean houses for a living and my own house is almost always a mess. I make everyone’s beautiful and put so much into it, that I get down on myself because it’s so hard to take care of mine like I used to before I started cleaning for a living. Thank you for reminding me that Jesus can help me with my own mess too!

  27. Leslie says:

    Much needed :) Thank you!

  28. Debi says:

    I so feel like this A LOT of the time! Thank you for the reminder that He, and He alone, can make us clean and whole. And He loves us, mess and all!

  29. Lisa Graham says:

    I love your transparency. Such frustration with this myself and long for the clean, tidy ordered life.
    I function much better, all that takes time and usually off and running. Lord help me, but more importantly give me that clean heart and busy hands to serve you!

  30. Sarah says:

    Thank you Cathe,

    That is so wonderful to hear.

    I finished The Truth Project (class by Focus on the Family) tonight and it was reminding us of this very scene. Isn’t it amazing how God has things fit so perfectly.

  31. Leia says:

    Wonderful timing. Thank you, for sharing.

  32. Tammy says:

    Thank you for the wonderful message, Cathe

  33. Jeanne says:

    Reality! Yes! Thank you!

  34. Amos says:

    Awesome words!!

  35. Jean M Hart says:

    Yes…I am one of those Beautiful Messes…Thankful for His perfect rest.

  36. Melissa Jaggears says:

    So touching….washing precious little children’s feet is just the word picture I needed, as it is how Jesus looks upon me, which is hard to grasp. The other impression I got from this is how much God values the ordinary tasks of homemakers who wash, feed and care for their family and home, in very ordinary ways, everyday.

  37. Jill says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing…these words are exactly what I’ve thought often – then our JESUS gently reminds me once again to bring my gaze back to His beautiful face. Thank you so much!

  38. cheryl says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have been struggling for some time with this subject. I feel a peace to know I am not alone in this and I Thank God for loving us while we are still messy.

  39. Lisa says:

    Cleansed and forgivin Amen Thank you for the reminder and story!

  40. Maria says:

    I’ve only been once and I loved it, but I’m going thru a difficult time. I should be going this reminded me of one day playing in the middle thinking my parents wouldn’t be back for hours, suddenly they were back I was about 5 years old my brother & I jumped into bed muddy feet clean white sheets oh boy did we get a real whooped with the belt. I’ve never had a relationship with my mother, my dad was my go to parent. That’s because he earned it he was at each birthing at the hospital, he gave me advice. When he got sick 2008 I spent all the time I could living in the hospitals with him. He passed 4/15/17 it’s been very hard. My siblings don’t talk to me, I tried to make peace with my mom in Mexico my grampa passed. Instead my mom took offense through every bad thing I’ve done since the age of 12. It was very hard to hear I didn’t answer her, my letter was kind open hearted even stated I wasn’t angry & please not to take it as a rebuttal a chance for us to have a Mom & daughter relationship.

  41. Barbara Sanchez says:

    It is a relief to know that my heart is cleansed daily by the blood of Jesus and as human beings we are messed up. Thank God we serve a great and mighty God who cleanses us with the Word. Thank you. It is a blessing that I am not alone!

  42. Teena says:

    Such a beautiful gift and heart you have been given by Jesus, Cathe.❤ Thank you for sharing it with us! So freeing to rest in Jesus who loves to wash us and cleanse us and fashion every part of us! I love being a beautiful mess in His beautiful hands!

  43. Sue Mills says:

    Love this Cathe a beautiful mess we all are and yet we are so profoundly loved. This article blessed me on so many levels my friend. Love you.

  44. Kay Uhrlaub says:

    Thank you Cathe….my husband is disabled and I work from home and my house and “the four walls” drive me crazy on a daily basis. Every day I work on getting rid of “stuff;” what a battle! I’m glad I’m not alone. Blessings to you and your family.

  45. Sarah Braggs says:

    So good! So needed! Thank you! ❤❤❤

  46. Debbie Zamora says:

    Hi Cathe, its always good to hear from you! I’m sorry I did not reply sooner I was in San Diego visiting my grandson he goes to college there. We went to the different beaches, my goodness God’s beauty is everywhere. I seen the sun set, my goodness it is beautiful. My Jesus is beautiful. I thought of His Mighty voice like the voice of many waters; wow My Jesus is powerful! My heart too is messy, I thank Jesus that He washes my heart clean every minute and brings me back to life. Thank you for the Bible verse John 13:14. Thank you for the encouragement, my feet get dirty everyday. I like that we are spiritually washed by Christ, have part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, He justifies and sanctifies.. :0)

    Hugs to you my friend! Thank you for sending, look forward to talking to you next time.

    My Jesus is awesome, thank you My Jesus for coming to our world and cleaning us.

  47. Cherie says:

    Thank you for this much needed reminder. I think we get caught up in what we think is important and needs to be done and we forget to slow down, pray, and ask for a healthier more God centered thought process.

  48. Lupe Desjardin Romero says:

    Dear Cathe, this a great reminder of the ways of our Lord, pure and simple the way He loves us. My grandkids are too old to lift and wash their feet, but He does everyday. When the enemy tries to rob our joy, His word rebukes him. We have been freed from condemnation through Jesus, praise our most worthy Lord!!! Thank you/yours for all the wonderful blessings your ministry has done for our Lord. May you and all your loved ones have the most glorious “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!”

    In His love,
    Lupe Desjardin Romero

  49. Joyce Gardner says:

    Thank you Cathe for being so honest and relatable. Life is just plain messy. We live in a fallen world – nothing will be perfect here. But God is a God of order. And He helps us through Christ to bring and establish order where we are able. There is just that acceptance it won’t stay because life is fluid, always changing. Jesus, always the same, with us! Glory!!

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