God Loves Ish!

This is a copy of Redeemer School parent Rachel Aldhizer’s chapel message, delivered March 20, 2024.

Thank you first grade for sharing this story, about a boy Ramon, who struggles to draw a picture that looks exactly how it should. Leon, Ramon’s brother, makes fun of him because his drawing is just “ish” — not perfect. But Marisol, Ramon’s sister, is the character to watch in this story. She takes his crumpled and cast off drawings, and displays them in her room. Ramon is shocked to see his mess-ups become masterpieces when viewed by the right person. 

This story is a good allegory for God’s creation. God draws our picture—we are each one unique creations. We can’t draw ourselves. But sometimes the picture God draws looks like it’s not very good at all. Each of you has something that feels like God messed up; something that feels ish. Maybe you struggle to read. Maybe you are shorter than you wish. Maybe some of you feel like God put you in the wrong family, that you’re out of place. Maybe you feel like you’re in the wrong school, or the wrong grade, or just keep saying the wrong thing. 

Let me tell you another story, about a little boy. One day, I found out I was going to have a third baby. And I was so excited! But then, we got some bad news at the doctor’s office. The doctor said that this baby wouldn’t be like my other babies. This baby might even die. When David was born, it was clear he was not drawn right, just like these pictures that got crumpled up. David is blind. He has a cleft lip and palate. If you looked inside his brain, it would look like bad news. From the outside, David looks like a drawing that someone got wrong. David looks very ish. How could that be? Did God draw the wrong picture?

One time someone asked me if it’s fair to still call David’s eyes eyes, since they don’t work the right way. That question is dangerous and wrong, because it equates what something is with what something does. David has parts that don’t work the right way. But he’s still a human, created and made.

Who we are is not in what we look like, or what we do. We are all crafted in God’s image, Imago Dei. The very parts we think are the most messed up about us, are the places God has set the stage to do his greatest work. God only works on purpose. That means David wasn’t a mess up or a mistake; but a treasured creation. David was made to be weak. 

When we are weak, then we are strong. God loves weak things. He loves broken things. God loved pictures that look scribbled. God loves ish! God says: I drew you, before you were born, I knit you together in your mother’s womb. God says: the parts of you that you are embarrassed and ashamed about, I chose those to be the site of my biggest masterpiece. I love you. I know you. I drew you. 

My little son David is a good example of how mess-ups can become masterpieces. In fact, they are destined for it. If you feel messed up today on the inside, like a drawing that isn’t right, tell Jesus to come and write his name on your heart. Ask him to make you into his masterpiece. People like David, people that look weak on the outside, are very special and important. Because they teach us who we are all on the inside. To get closer to Jesus, we need to become weaker than we are—less important, less powerful, less knowledgeable—and more like a painting that’s ish, instead of a painting that’s perfect.

There’s only one truly perfect painting, one masterpiece, that’s Jesus. Jesus became “ish” for our sake. He humbled himself, taking the form of a servant. Jesus didn’t come as a powerful and mighty king like what we think a messiah should be. He came to be lowly. He traded his place of honor as God’s treasured son and majestic painting to become a helpless baby. He grew up to become a man who would die so that all of humanity, God’s creation, could be restored as a great masterpiece. 

And that masterpiece is now yours in the work our Lord Christ did on the cross. Jesus’s perfect picture is yours. Fix your eyes on him as your masterpiece, and ask God to paint your life to look like a picture of Christ—Christ in his birth, Christ in his life, Christ in death even, and most importantly, Christ in resurrection.

It’s almost Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the fact that Christ died and rose again for our sake. We are waiting for the return of our king. He will come again in glory and be with us forever. On that day, all the things that are most ish about you will be transformed in the blink of an eye, touched with the glorious paintbrush of God. One day, David will see and run. And leap. And talk! I like to think that his first words will be when he sees the face of his great king. Soon, we will be with God in his special garden for all eternity. Until then we are so very hopeful, even when the things that are ish about us feel so heavy. Let’s close in prayer and ask God to come again quickly, and in the meantime, give us grace to bear the things about us that are ish with thankful hearts, because ish things make us like Christ in the end.