Parenting has a way of teaching you lessons—lessons that you never knew you never knew until you find yourself in the middle of some crazy scenario and you’re pretending like you know what you’re doing and really you’re just doing your best to keep it all together while you’re learning along the way!

When I talk to new parents I often tell them that you can read all the parenting books you want—and they might help a little—but when it comes down to it, each family is so unique that we’re really all just making it up as we go.

While there are entire blogs dedicated to parenting lessons, there is one lesson I want to share today: there’s no such thing as a ruined art project… there’s simply a new opportunity to make it even better than it was before!

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the night before the project is due at school.  There’s been a lot of effort poured into the project.  There has probably been some drama trying to decide what colors or materials to use.  But you’re finally there.  It’s finally complete and ready to be turned in the next day.

Inevitably, like a law of physics, the moment you turn your back on that project is the moment that one of the younger siblings goes full-ninja and starts adding doodles with a permanent marker while no one is looking!

Of course, the moment it does get noticed, World War Three breaks out and a giant sense of panic sets in.  While the older sibling is crying, “It’s ruined!” you—the parent—find yourself making promises that you’re just not sure you can keep.

“No, it’s not ruined! That’s… uh… totally fixable. In fact… uh… I think that kind of gives me an idea of a way we can make it even better than it was!”

Meanwhile, you’re scrambling in your mind to come up with a way to fix the disaster right in front you.

Have you been there?

It’s in those moments that we have a choice to make: we can either get stuck in our sense of panic (and have nothing to turn in the next day!), or we can decide to act and make something happen.

And quite frankly, we’re faced with this choice a lot in life.  Life has a way of throwing us curveballs, and we can sit there and say, “It’s all ruined. Why did this happen? And it’s all his fault!” or we can say, “Well, what now?  I guess it’s time to get to work.”

A couple weeks ago I preached on this dynamic from John 9 as Jesus’ disciples ask him about a man who was born blind, “Who sinned that this man was born blind?  Was it the man?  Or was it his parents?”  And Jesus essentially says, “You’re asking the wrong question.  Don’t get stuck asking, ‘Why?’  Instead, start asking, ‘What now?’”  Then he goes on to talk about God being glorified in and through the blind man (who Jesus then heals).

Theologian N.T. Wright writes, “The chaos and misery of this present world is, it seems, the raw material out of which the loving, wise and just God is making his new creation.[1]

In other words, the art project of your life that you think is ruined is actually just another opportunity for God to step in and redeem it into something that is even bigger and better than before.

So whether it’s COVID-19 throwing you for a loop, or any number of disappointments that life has thrown your way, you have a choice to make.  Will I get stuck in the realm of “Why?” or will I make the transition to asking, “What now? How can God be glorified in this?”

Don’t get me wrong—making that transition it a lot easier said than done.  But God is in the business of redemption, and with the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, God invites us to join in that project of redeeming the “ruined art projects” of this world all around us. 

[1]Wright, T. (2004). John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10(p. 134). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

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This illustration was originally a part of a sermon preached at First United Methodist Church Richardson on March 22, 2020.  Click here to watch the sermon in its entirety.

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