Yesterday, I tried fixing a gap in my home with expanding foam. I read the instructions, did my best to follow them – and guess what? It was a mess. The foam wouldn’t stay put in the gap long enough to dry in place and instead fell out all over the bottom of the cupboard, making a sticky mess that could only sort of be cleaned up. Luckily, because it’s inside the cupboard, most people will never see the mess.
But this has had me thinking – we humans are really good at making messes. I remember teasing my sister when we were little because it seemed like the minute she touched paint or clay or food, it would immediately be all over the place – all over the table, her hands, her little apron, her hair, maybe even the walls. Of course, she wasn’t trying to make a mess. Well, not usually. But as she had her fun, the mess naturally happened. I’m sure I made plenty of messes myself as well, and looking back I think we should have done more to clean them up.
My mom, however, always made sure to help us clean up our messes and cleaned the things we couldn’t or didn’t. The messes usually didn’t leave permanent marks. They didn’t last forever. But that’s only because there was someone capable of cleaning up the mess.
In our lives, we end up in a lot of messes. Some are as small as paint or expanding foam, but others – many others – are much bigger and harder to clean up messes. We get in fights, we fail, we develop poor habits and struggle to overcome them. Sometimes we lose things or question revelation. We end up in a lot of tough situations that we can’t fix on our own.
Our Savior Can Do What We Can’t
When we end up in situations that we can’t fix or clean up on our own, Christ steps in. He knows exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. He knows when to heal, to organize, to guide, and to chastise. In any situation we face, Christ can make things right.
For Him to step in like that, we do need to ask for His help and support. We need to trust that He does have a plan and that He is capable of carrying it out. Even when things seem impossible to correct, Christ can do what we can’t do.
One of my favorite examples of this is Alma the Younger. He was doing all he could to lead people away from God, effectively murdering them spiritually (Alma 36:14). By doing this, he made a difficult mess for himself, the Church, and those he led away from God. When God stepped in, He sent an angel to Alma to try and set him straight. That visitation shocked Alma so much that he did choose to change.
That’s when Christ stepped in again. When Alma turned to Him, Christ received him and showed him how things could be made right. But Alma couldn’t make those things right on his own. He could do some things – admitting publicly that he’d been wrong, serving others, and teaching others about the truth – but without the grace of Christ, his efforts never would have been enough.
But Christ helped Alma clean up his personal mess and then work to clean up other messes as well. Christ offered grace to Alma and everyone Alma taught, giving the opportunity to change and recover from all their messes in life.
Christ isn’t afraid of our messes. In fact, He asks us to come to Him with our messes because He knows He can make them right. And every time we take those messes to Him, He will take the mess, follow through on His promise to clean up the mess, and empower us to be better servants in His work. All we have to do is trust Him with our messes.