Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finding God's Message in the Puzzle

Sometimes God speaks to me in puzzle pieces. What I mean by this is that separate and often times unrelated events occur within a matter of days that when fit together properly with prayerful discernment, give me a powerful picture or message. This week, I’m inviting you to look at the puzzle pieces with me.

PUZZLE PIECE #1: Friday, I found out that I have a disc out of place in my neck that is causing pain, tingling, and weakness in my left arm and hand. I was forced to accept the fact that I may need surgery to correct the problem. Immediately, I began to worry about missing too much work during a long recovery time. How am I supposed to eat, pay my bills, and afford my rent if I miss weeks of work? I don’t have disability, so I would have absolutely no income while I'm off work. With no savings to draw from, this is a very bleak and frightening prospect to face.

PUZZLE PIECE #2: Tuesday night, a disturbed individual walked into a local aerobics class, turned out the lights and started firing indiscriminately. He killed three women, wounded nine more and then killed himself.

PUZZLE PIECE #3: Wednesday afternoon, two American journalists, who had been prisoners in North Korea for five months, stepped off a plane in the U.S. In a press conference, one of them said that every time one of their captors came into their rooms, they feared it was to bring them to a hard labor camp where they would remain, possibly for the rest of their lives. They had no idea that they were being released until a door opened and they saw the American team that would bring them home that day.

PUZZLE PIECE #4: Reflecting on the pieces at hand, my thoughts drifted to some of those unforeseeable life-changing events from my past. There was the first time my first husband abused me. There was the day my son was killed in a car accident. There was the night my second husband told me he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. All of these things came upon me with no notice, no time to brace myself for their impact, or prepare myself for the hardships they put in my life and on my heart. In the midst of these trials, I was fearful because I didn’t know what the next day would bring. I was stuck in the fear, the pain, and the insecurity of those events. It left me with a feeling of uncertainty and a building fear that I have no control in my life.

PUZZLE PIECE #5: Wednesday evening, one of those silly Facebook quizzes told me that the Bible verse that best describes my life is 1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you. Then it proceeded to tell me that I tend to try to solve all my own problems. Jesus is there waiting for me with open arms to help me and "care" me through. I was instructed to let him – he loves me.

PRAYERFUL DISCERNMENT. What do I do with these puzzle pieces? I sense the overall picture is about trust - a deep, unwavering trust in the Lord. Trust that in this moment…and this moment…and this moment, the Lord is attending to his plan in my life whatever those moments hold for me. C.S. Lewis said that the next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything. Whatever the circumstances of my life, God's plan is for our relationship to grow and flourish. The plan is to weed out my sinfulness so that his holiness has room to grow in me. God uses the trials and triumphs of my life to create in me the perfect heart of a child of God.

God's deep abiding love for me is evident. He gave his own Son, his own life in a brutal violent death, rather than see me perish. His heart aches for my pain and rejoices in my jubilation. Hearing my voice call his name is his greatest joy. His thoughts are continually of me and his heart overflows with compassion for me. His love compels him to be ever-present in my life. This is the God who holds the moments of my life in his hands. He has power over all things. What is there really to worry about? I don't have control over what will happen. In fact, I never did and to embrace the kind of trust in God that he deserves, I need to stop clinging to the illusion of being able to obtain that control. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Not easy, but straight. Straight through the trials of this world into his arms.

So now, I need to answer one question: Do I want to trade the fear and insecurity of not being able to control what happens to me in life for the peace and security of trusting the omnipotent, loving God who holds my heart and my life in his hands?
About the picture:
North Park (August 2009)

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