My friends and I have been reading through the book of Genesis this January – a celebration and marking of beginnings in many ways.

The book is full of births, celebrations, and the start of God’s family tree. It’s ancient and raw and earthy. It’s the book that people of faith refer to with reverence. It’s the pages of the patriarchs. It’s the start of the human journey, the fall, and the subsequent journey of every human heart back to the God of love.

But have you ever read the book of Genesis?

It. Is. Messy.

Deception. Running. Hiding. Family feuding. Slavery. Imprisonment. Fear. Falls. These are only some of the themes that thread themselves through these dusty, war-torn stories that stretch miles across the desert.

In our time in Genesis this month, we have read about Joseph – the boy who was sold into slavery by his envious older brothers.

We have read about Tamar sleeping with her father-in-law in order to extend their family line.

We have read about the heartbreaking, competitive battles between Rachel and Leah, clamoring for the attention and affection of the same husband.

We have read about the tragic darkness that seemed to follow Jacob, Esau and their family like a shadow.

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I confess that, as I’ve been reading, I’ve wanted to skip over the mess.

I’ve been tempted to keep these ancient stories in their tidy, Sunday school versions. Where Jacob’s coat is technicolor and Sarah laughed in her old age. Where the stories feel old enough that they don’t hit too close to home.

I’ve wanted to skip over the mess. But it hasn’t worked.

Here’s the thing you guys: I’ve started to see myself in the pages of Genesis.

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when that probably wouldn’t have been true. When my life was full of adventure and comfort, in equal doses. When life was hopeful and not hurtful.

But then life got messy. I battled anxiety and depression. I failed at things. I got disappointed and scared. I both felt hurt and dealt hurt.

This, friends, is when the gospel got really real for me. And this is when I realized that I was messy. That I was human, despite my attempts to cover that up. This, friends, was the start of my Genesis story.

When I opened the book of Genesis at the start of this new year, that messy person wandering in the desert was no longer someone else. That person looked just like me.

Here’s what I think.

I think that you’re convinced that you’re a mess.

A dirt-under-your-nails, mascara-smearing, unshowered, unhinged mess.

Yeah, I’m talking to YOU. You who are scrolling through Facebook on your cell phone at the end of another hard week. You who want to live a big story but feel like your stuck in a small one. You who feel like you’re not where you thought you would be in 2016.

I think we’re STILL believing those lies that we. are. not. enough. That because of our mistakes and flaws, we’re unattractive to both human beings and God. We want to cover up the mess. We believe that the mess disqualifies us for service in God’s kingdom.

Here’s the thing: I think God wants to use the mess.

The stories of Genesis have told me that His purpose isn’t intimidated by my mess. Seemingly isolated incidents – hard, weird, painful, confusing incidents – hurt and depression and wandering stories and hard conversations – are stitching together a greater story of redemption.

The mess isn’t exempt from the redemption story. The mess makes the redemption story. 

And my life is the same way. Your life is the same way.

Mistakes. Mondays. Bad dreams. Hard lessons. Hard goodbyes. Start-overs.

God is using the stuff of our days, friends.

Want proof? Let’s look back at Genesis.

Joseph – the boy who was sold into slavery by his envious older brothers – become a trusted officer in the Egyptian guard and saved the lives of thousands of people during a devastating famine. He kept alive the sons that would usher in the next generation of Israel.

Tamar slept with her father-in-law in order to extend her family line. And her family line would turn out to be the family line of Jesus.

Rachel and Leah fought and felt less-than for most of their lives, clamoring for the attention and affection of the same husband. Little did they know that their sons would become the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.

These are both ordinary and extraordinary days, just like yours and mine, when God was steadfastly keeping His covenant with His people.

God redeems the stories of messy, imperfect people with a messy, perfect love. A love that comes close. A love that wins.

Here’s what I think.

I think that you’re convinced that you’re a mess.

And here’s what I also think: You need to cut it out. Don’t let your mess take you out of the game.

OUR FATHER GOD IS SUPER CRAZY ABOUT YOU. You are TREASURED. You have IMESURABLE FREEDOM and UNMATCHABLE LOVE that is fully yours, every day, every second. Every good and hard and excruciating second.

People like you are the kind of people that God uses for his big, beautiful story.

God wants to write us into His redemption story. And I want us to let Him. I want us to welcome Him.

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Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to work on my understanding of God’s messy, perfect love during the month of February. While the world munches candy hearts and buys Hallmark cards, I’m going to focus on the love of God for me and for us.

A love that the mess can’t match.

A love that a Hallmark card just can’t handle.

A love that declares the fearfully, wonderfully made truth that God spoke into being with the creation of each and every one of us.

And, if you want to, I want you to come with me.

Together, let’s think about God’s messy,  close, unafraid, unashamed love for His kids. And then remember how true this is over our lives.

Let’s think about the deep love we have for our friends and loved ones and the truth we would speak over their lives. And then lets speak those truths aloud, affirming and encouraging each other, rather than competing or shying away.

As my friend, I want you to believe that when you know God’s love for you, you’ll fall more in love back.

I want you to believe that the mess doesn’t disqualify you.

I want you to believe what God says over you through the ancient, winding stories of His Word: That you are fearfully & wonderfully made.

Friends, here’s to a February unlike any other.

Throughout this month, I’m going to share the messy + beautiful stuff we walk through on social media with the hashtag #FearfullyFebruary. (Aren’t I just so trendy? LOL). I’d love for you to join me. 

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