Lest we forget what God can do with mud

What can God do with brokenness, with everything we wish didn’t happen, couldn’t happen, but does and leaves a huge mess. What possibly could God do.


Friends of mine asked me to pray. There’s a conflict. The words they used were “there’s so much brokenness.”       There always is. We try to forget that though.  When we are on a winning streak.

I have been thinking about this poem all week – because what is dirt other than the bits of life that have broken down, packed down and wait under everything we do all day.

He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” John 9:15

Blessing of Mud

Lest we think

The blessing

Is not

In the dirt.


Lest we think

The blessing

Is not

In the earth

Beneath our feet.


Lest we think

The blessing

Is not

In the dust,


Like the dust

That God scooped up at the beginning

And formed

With God’s

Two hands

And breathed into

With God’s own



Lest we think

The blessing

Is not

In the spit.


Lest we think

The blessing

Is not

In the mud.


Lest we think

The blessing

Is not

In the mire,

The grime,

The muck.


Lest we think

God cannot reach

Deep into the things

Of earth,

Cannot bring forth

The blessing

That shimmers

Within the sludge,

Cannot anoint us

With a tender

And grimy grace.


Lest we think

God will not use

The ground

To give us

Life again,

To cleanse us

Of our unseeing,

To open our eyes upon

This ordinary

And stunning world.


–Jan Richardson



When there is brokenness, especially personal, interpersonal brokenness, our instinct is to run. Because brokenness collaterally damages everyone. Shards of ourselves hit those closest to us—when we are broken….broken open.


We get angry when things aren’t perfect. Because we need them to be. To accomplish all the important things we have to accomplish, we need things to flow and click and not get stuck and not freeze up and not have issues. We need our leaders to do this. We need our volunteers to do this. We need our systems to do this. We need our spouses to do this, we need our parent to do this, we need our children to do this. We need ourselves to do this.

But they don’t. We don’t. They (and we) can go on for awhile, personally and systemically, and then they (and we)  break. Break down. Break apart. Break open. That’s the nature of time and space and growth and need. That’s the nature of being a human – it stands to reason then, that anything humans create has this inherent within it. Churches, communities, city councils, constitutions, programs, governments—they break.   Breaks happen in our marriages, our friendships, our neighborliness, our parenting.   Breaks happen deep in our own selves. We don’t trust ourselves, we second guess everything. We call ourselves failures—because we break. We call others weak and get so frustrated, because they break.  We aim for doing all the right things, with all the latest ideas, with all the knowledge we have. But that’s not enough. If I do all things perfectly and in line with what I’m supposed to but have not the capacity to love through the broken……its not enough.


The curious thing about this faith…the most curious, upside-down thing is that God seems to know this. And  it is, in fact, the prerequisite for understanding anything that He is doing, for understanding anything in that old book.


Blessed are the weak, blessed are the broken, blessed are the mourning, the lost, the hungry and those whose voice is lost in the loud, loud world.  Blessed are those who try to make peace amidst all our brokenness. These are the ones who will get THIS, get this KINGDOM thing more than anyone doing all the work, all the right things will ever, ever, ever get. Because they, the broken, have no capacity to make it happen on their own merits……


Abraham, (old, so old), Moses (murderer, coward), Naomi (old and irrelevant), David (adulterer, murderer, show-off), Jonah (coward, angry). Peter (arrogant know-it-all with big blind spots), Paul (arrogant know-it-all with big blind spots, then sick, then in prison without any power).

Me (tired, tired, tired, lethargic, tired, in mourning all the time, lazy, angry, judgemental, sensitive, suspicious, needy, tired, tired, tired).

The kingdom of God is like the tiny seed of a weed. The Kingdom of God is like the son who takes all his money and completely blows it in the most selfish of ways. And then comes home and gets all he’s ever wanted. The Kingdom of God is like when the workers who work the most get the same pay as the workers who work the least.

The kingdom of God is when the least deserving and least likable of your community is welcomed and given all that you’ve been working for. The Kingdom of God is when the prisoner doing his deserved time for taking another’s life and voice is visited, honored, heard. The kingdom is when someone who has nothing and definitely nothing to give you in return is brought to the table and given what they need. The kingdom of God is completely not set up in the same way that we would define as the way things should work. But it is completely set up to hold our broken, broken selves.  It is completely set up to hold us in our humanity, to hold within its wholeness our whole brokenness.


If you would have new life, you must fall to the ground and die – like a seed, in the dark, in the dirt.

Lest we think that God is not in the mud. The mud, the dirt, the spit, the stuff you scrape off your shoe after the dogpark, that He puts on your eyes, that HE fills your vision with, that he uses to answer the deepest heartache you’ve ever had. This is the way He does it. And boy oh boy, do we, who like to see progress and all things shiny and new and perfect, hate this.

Again, that’s why the broken get it. They know the mud is the truth of the matter and the only way through to the truth of the God who grows everything from the dirt.


My pastor talks about God’s signature moves…..I have this sneaking suspicion that this is the signature of signature moves….


I’ve got to learn to stop praying for God to show me how HE sees things, to stop praying to be broken for what breaks him, to stop praying for His will to be done. Because it means that the literal shitstorm is about to fly in my face and grow something new, something I’ve always wanted, something I was created to long for, something like the Very presence of the Very God.

But holy effing flip, its messy in the meantime. And the clean up is a bitch.


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