For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Passion Translation)
Do you ever hear the Lord speak to you in such simple terms that you think to yourself that it can't possibly be Him as it's so obvious? It usually means that I'm not getting the glaringly obvious and He needs to remind me of that!
So many of us have had our lives turned upside down recently and all that was once certain and secure has suddenly become uncertain and insecure. It's a bit like emptying a box of jigsaw pieces onto a table. To begin with it's just a pile of cardboard pieces that don't make any sense. At this stage the picture isn't visible or even comprehensible. If you're anything like me the first thing you do is turn all the pieces the right way up. Then I sort the edge pieces and the four corner pieces. Then piece by piece the picture starts to take shape.
Sometimes there are many pieces that look the same - blue sky pieces, blue sea pieces and every shade of green I can imagine and some! It's easy to connect two pieces together and think it's a perfect fit only to find later on that it wasn't a match after all. Often it seems that nothing fits and the piece in my hand gets tried and retried in exhaustive positions only to eventually get tossed to one side only for the very next piece I pick up to fit into place immediately! Oh the satisfaction of finding a piece that fits! It spurs me on to keep going and excitement builds as the scene unfolds before my eyes.
The season I am in at the moment feels like doing a real-life jigsaw puzzle without the benefit of being able to see the picture on the box. However, the Holy Spirit can see the complete picture and is leading and guiding me to select each piece for placing. It's a journey of faith and hope. It's vital, though, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as it's easy to get frustrated when the pieces don't fit together or distracted when every piece I pick up is more green or more blue. But without those endless pieces that look the same the picture won't be complete.
In my limited experience of completing jigsaw puzzles I have only ever attempted two dimensional puzzles but I understand that there are now three-dimensional jigsaws of famous buildings, globes, dinosaurs and the like! Even though I have never attempted one it strikes me that our lives are like a three-dimensional puzzle. There's my life and then the lives of those who I am connected to whether they are my family, friends, neighbours, colleagues or the body of Christ. How I build my life affects those around me, I am intrinsically linked together with others.
So here's another obvious statement, you can't build the top of a three dimensional puzzle until you have assembled the base! Just like any building you can't put the roof on before you've completed the walls and you can't erect the walls until you have a solid foundation. Jesus taught about this very subject. We find it in Matthew chapter 7.
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use My words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” Matthew 7:24 - 27 (The Message)
Building my life on rock, living my life according to the Word and being led by the Holy Spirit, enables me to withstand the storms that come my way.
“Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away. As you listen to Me, My beloved child, you will grow in wisdom and your heart will be drawn into understanding, which will empower you to make right decisions. “Proverbs 23:18 - 19 (The Passion Translation)
Trusting in the Lord leads to wisdom which enables us to make wise decisions. It's this trust that knows He can see the bigger picture, even when we can't, that stops us from giving up.
Like many, I like order and I like a good plan. God always has a good plan but He doesn't reveal it all at once. He knows that I would try to work it all out and make it happen in my own strength. Proverbs 3:5 encourages me to trust in the Lord - with all my heart - that is everything within me - and not my own understanding - this includes trying to work out the process. This requires patience. Patience to let God fulfil His purposes and plans for my life in His timing. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. If I operate out of impatience then I am not allowing the Spirit to work patience in me.
“So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labours, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” Hebrews 4:9-11 (New Living Translation)
This is a great scripture as it illustrates my need to rest - as God did - from my labours. I have been conditioned to be busy. My worth has become being productive and value for money as it were. I'm not talking about earning salvation here. I'm not afraid of hard work but I realise that I find it difficult to rest, to be. I am a human being not a human doing.
God rested on the sabbath to appreciate all that he had accomplished. He rested. Resting isn't just a physical thing because my body is exhausted. It's a rest of my soul and of my spirit. Rest is a place of peace. Rest is a place of trust. Rest is a place of absolute surrender to His best purposes and plans for my life. This seems to fly in the face of faith. I declare what I am believing for and repeat my favourite promise scriptures.
However, faith is trusting God that He will do what He said He will do. Faith isn't pestering God until I get what I want. Doubt and unbelief can creep into my thinking when I'm not seeing answers to my requests or fulfilment of His promises in my timing. I have to remember that God is outside of the realm of time. Time is manmade it's not part of the Kingdom realm. Therefore I can't hold God accountable for not meeting my time frame. He very often graciously delivers on a promise 'just in time' but this isn't because He is bound by time or my parameters it's because He is faithful and just to fulfil all His promises.
“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put His finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Philippians 1:6 (The Passion Translation)
This is a lovely scripture to end on because it talks about His timing and completion. As I have got older (and wiser, I have the gray hair to prove it!) I have come to realise that I never stop learning, never stop growing and there are always more pieces to place in the jigsaw.
He who has begun a good work in me, and in you, will bring it to completion.