So, Why Messy and Playful?


The truth? Because, my life is!

Well, more messy than playful at times. Sitting down to eat? Messy. Walking the dog? Messy. Laundry? Messy. Toys? Messy. Everyone else’s bedroom…(ahem)? Messy. Garden? Messy. My desk? Messy. Bookcase? Messy. One of the best footballers in the world? Messi…wait, what? My workshop? Messy….My mind? Messy…you get the Instagram.

With my beautiful (and long-suffering) wife, Cate, our five children – three teenagers (almost) and two toddlers – and a dog who thinks she’s a muppet, life is never dull. Nor predictable, and eh…not often quiet. In fact, the Lord impressed on Cate when we were expecting our fourth, “It’s time to get messy and playful”. And, voila! He was right. It was.

But a mess is just part of life. It’s a home, lived in and loved. It’s a life peppered with inconveniences and shifting agendas. It’s having to change that droopy nappy or clean up after the dog’s been sick again, when all you want to do is to drink that coffee you made ten minutes ago. It’s paying that parking fine when the budget never saw that one coming! It’s a life of rearranged priorities when blessings, such as your children, explode in your heart and appear in your arms. It’s a life of sleep deprivation and dropping off at family movie night.

Our children’s fort!

Things escape the radar and that’s ok. Thank God, I am learning to see mess as an organic by-product of a much more important process–not a permanent disposition or a reflection on my identity or worth. And all because I am beginning to see Father’s perspective. He is neither worried, nor troubled, nor even conscious of, what I classify as, my mess.

My favourite mess is one that shapes how I perceive and respond to all other mess. And, I am really beginning to enjoy this particular mess, for in reality, it’s a wonderful opportunity to be loved…and to love. It’s the mess I create simply by being a child of God. My relationship with Father is, for sure, messy at times as I learn to see myself as I truly am and to become as lighthearted and playful as He is.

God is not obsessed with the mess I usually leave in my wake. Nor with my messy thinking or behaviour, nor my messy (mis)understanding of scripture. He’s simply not bothered: it’s not mess to Him. It’s life! He rather enjoys it. He loves to father me, transform me and awaken me to Christlikeness.

Our mess is not our identity.

Internal mess, external mess? Not according to Father. Messy heart? Not so…Messy theology? Not so…Messy family? Not so.

How so? Because God sees us in Christ: He does not see us as we see ourselves. He sees us as we truly are, in our perfected state. He is obsessed with our righteousness and has no reference for sin! He sees us covered in Christ’s own righteousness–fully justified and sanctified before Him: a beloved son.

These past twelve years, or so, for me have witnessed an awakening to Grace: understanding the finished work of the Cross and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as (finally!) the Good news it actually is. It’s about Christ and Him crucified! I have nothing to boast in…nor want to. The Cross short circuits my thinking, so my thinking may be messy for a while. Grace offends my sense of pride and wanting to prove myself worthy, so my actions are messy for a while. But, I am no longer reaching out, as I used to, for God Himself, nor for His approval: trying to impress Him with my sacrifices, my worship, my fasting, my theology, my patience, my self-righteousness (barf!), my love for Him, or even…deep breath…my memory verses…there, I said it!

I am learning to rest in Christ’s finished work. To rest in His love. In His loving of me. And, yes…it is messy sometimes. For I don’t see, nor experience all I know He is for me nor all He has already given me in and through Jesus Christ. My life is a process of awakening to the staggering truth of being in Christ Jesus, seated with Him in heavenly places and living from there…not striving to get there!

Prior to this, my thinking had been messy…wayhayhay messy! I had inherited and expertly cultivated a legalistic and religious mindset. My goal? To (somehow) demonstrate a level of righteousness that would satisfy and appease the wrath of God. I had to live this Christ life in my own strength, following His example, exhibiting His morality, parading my cross, killing my flesh, all to reveal Jesus and validate or appropriate His sacrifice…(eh, thank you, me). I lived according to an illusive set of rules and regulations, do and donts, shalls and shall nots.

But now I am learning that mine–and yours–is a life saved by Grace! Knowing that and, that we are justified and made righteous by faith, a gift from God, we can now begin to play! In fact, it’s the only way you truly can! Anything else is a mere act.

Play!!! Play!!! Play!!! I learn so much from my children how to be light and playful. Sometimes I even see Jesus in the midst of their wrangles, knowing He kick started the craziness in the first place. I could see another mess, “Guys! Come on, we agreed not to put the paddling pool in the sitting room!”, or I could…chillax!

Life in Christ is meant to be a joyful experience. The joy comes when you believe and know in your heart that you are already there! He has done it all! That’s good news! If it was remotely up to us in any way, we would blow it by sunset.

What you will discover through this blog, is permission to simply enjoy being playful in the beautiful mess of our sonship: a life lived out in Grace. A life of Grace. This is my life in Christ, and He in me. It’s the wonderings and wanderings of an Irish son…who happens to be Dad’s favourite!

It is my prayer that you realise and are awakened to the reality of Christ in you, the Gospel of Grace and the finished work of the Cross. I believe you will be wonderfully blessed as you open up to all Father wishes to reveal about Himself, about who He really is and who you truly are.

I look forward to journeying with you and to hear of your revelations and awakenings to the truth and the good news of God’s Grace revealed in the now ascended Christ Jesus.

Oh, whatever does not sit with you for now, do what I do…create a mess and simply spit out the bones…It’s time for meat my friend…this blog is lactose intolerant!

As He Is,



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