God’s still working on your puzzle

I have a friend who for a few years has been coming over on Tuesday nights.  It started out mostly because her cable was out and there was a TV show that we both watched, so she just came to my house to watch it with me and the routine stuck.  During the times when the show was on a break, we started putting puzzles together and well, that routine pretty much stuck too.  So now we watch shows and put puzzles together every Tuesday night.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time that my table didn’t have a puzzle on it.

We usually do 1000 piece puzzles and in all this time, we’ve gotten pretty good at putting them together.  We have often finished a whole puzzle in one night with the TV going in the background.  We always start by sorting through to find the outside edges.   Then once they are all together, we sort the inside pieces – by color or by what they are – and then we start working on the inside.  Sometimes the sorting is easy because the pieces are distinct enough to know which section of the puzzle they probably go, but other times when there are a lot of similar colors, it’s a lot harder to tell.

But even when a piece is obviously part of the house or the dog or whatever’s in the picture, you still don’t know exactly where to put it until there are some other pieces in place around where it goes.  You have a general idea, but not an exact one.

Our walk with God is so much like this.  We try to sort out situations we find ourselves in and sometimes we kinda have an idea of where God’s going with the thing.  We can see about where all of it fits in.  Other times, we haven’t got a clue…we know it has purpose and fits in somewhere, but where is so unclear.  It’s not unusual to end up having to wait for God to put a few more pieces in place before we can get a clear picture of where He’s going.

And in our waiting, it’s not hard to get distracted by glancing around at other people’s lives.  We see all the pieces of their puzzle seeming to fall right into place and here we are with all these piles of pieces and no idea where to put them.  It’s easy to get discouraged when we focus on what God is doing in everybody else’s life and forget to pay attention to what’s happening in ours.  We get envious and covet what someone else has instead of being patient and waiting for our own picture to become clear.

And I mean, let’s just be honest.  Waiting stinks.  It’s hard, especially when the thing we are waiting for is something that’s a deep desire of our heart.  But when God is in charge of our timeline, we can find rest while we wait.  We can trust His timing even when we can’t understand it.

We can be fully assured that all the pieces of our puzzle will come together and make something beautiful.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says this:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, 

for his compassions never fail. 

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; 

therefore I will wait for him.”

Our God is merciful and good.  He loves with un unending love that is so hard for us in our finite minds to grasp.  And He is faithful…remember that.  Even when you don’t see anything falling into place, remember that He’s still at the table. He hasn’t given up on you and left.  He’s still there sorting all your pieces and He’s still working to put together something beautiful for you.

He’s a master at putting your puzzle together.  And He won’t quit until it’s completed.

“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion

until the day of Christ Jesus.”  ~ Philippians 1:6

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Distractions…or why watching a TV show that’s in a language you don’t speak very well at all can jam up your ability to get things done.

You guys.  I was on a roll recently with my writing and then I got distracted by this ridiculous television show.  A SPANISH television show where I had to read subtitles.  Thank goodness it was only three seasons or else I guess I’d still have my face in my iPad sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the next catastrophe was going to be for these folks.  How does that happen?

In this case, the explanation seems easy.  I thought to myself, I’ll just find a show that can be background noise for me while I crochet or fold clothes.  Makes sense right?  However the show I picked because it sounded really interesting turned out to be a Spanish show.  So I thought, well I’ll give it a go.  Maybe it’ll help me learn more Spanish.

Except for that’s not how it all went down.  Nope.  See if you’re watching a show that’s in a language you don’t speak really well, you have to actually read the subtitles to keep up with what’s going on.  And this show was a cliffhanger thriller type show, so you don’t want to miss any of the details of who’s hiding what and who’s in cahoots with who.  Whom.  Who.  Whatever.  (Clearly English is also not a mastered skill of mine.)

So here I am all involved in this show and I can’t get anything else done because SUBTITLES.  And by the time that revelation dawned on me, I was in there way too deep, ya’ll.

And I couldn’t help but think how many times the enemy gets me like that.  Not that I’m blaming the Spanish show on Satan.  That was all me.  I jumped right in with both feet on that one.  But in other things, the devil uses distractions to get us to focus on little things that don’t really matter to get our attention off the main thing (which I know I’ve said a million times before, but clearly have not yet grasped the concept of).  He frames these little things in a way that makes it seem like they are uber important.  Suddenly we’re putting all our attention into this one thing that might not really be as important as we think it is.  Or maybe it is important, but it’s not ours to deal with.

I’ve been spending some time looking back over the last few years of my life at the things that I’ve put a lot of focus on.  Some of them were just silly in the grand scheme of it all, but some of them were things to legitimately be concerned about.  Except for I went from being concerned to near being obsessed.  You guys, I wish I could tell you my whole story because I think all this would make so much more sense, and maybe one day I will, but not yet.

What I can say looking back though is that I found myself viewing situations through my own past wounds.  It wasn’t that the things upsetting me weren’t valid.  They absolutely were.  However, some of these battles weren’t mine to fight.  But there I was swinging my sword anyway because in the moment, the pain I saw others suffering was magnified by my own.  Do you know what I mean?  When we have old wounds that haven’t ever healed properly and we see others being wounded as well, it’s almost like ripping the scab off and we’re bleeding all over again and we don’t even fully understand why.  We just know that we’re hurting and somebody else is hurting and it has to stop.

Instead of trusting God to work everything out, I get so easily sidetracked and suddenly I have tunnel vision.  What should happen is that I recognize a wrong, I pray about it and do whatever God tells me to do, even if that is to just be still and wait for Him to make it right.  And that’s hard when you’ve already jumped in with both feet because you’re impatient.  You feel like you have to see the thing through and it has to be right now.

And just like I binge-watched three seasons of non-English show because I couldn’t wait to see how it would end, sometimes I come in like a steamroller because I can’t wait for God to do His thing.  Because He’s not always fast about it.  And somehow I’ve equated praying while waiting with doing nothing.  Which is a lie.

Because if God has said, pray and wait, that doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing is happening.  God’s always at work, always doing.  It just might be that what He’s doing at the moment doesn’t directly involve me.  Maybe for the moment I don’t have a part in the show.  Maybe for the moment, I’m just hanging in the back, taking care of props and lighting while somebody else is on stage.  Just because God’s movement isn’t evident to me in the moment doesn’t mean God is being still.  It just means He wants me to.

So I’m giving Spanish TV shows a rest for now.  I’m also putting my sword in the sheath and letting God do God while I re-learn what it means to trust Him, His timing, and His good intentions towards me and everyone else.

Hasta luego!

Swimming in the Jordan

I was reminded yesterday of a dream I had a while back.  I was walking in this huge yawning hallway, reminiscent of a cathedral but empty.  The walls were made of stone and they stretched up to reach the arched ceiling that seemed to be a mile high.  As I walked down this hall, I came to a place in the floor that was open and as I looked down into the opening, I could see water flowing underneath the floor.  The water was clear and I could see smooth round pebbles on the bottom.  As I looked up, there was a gentleman standing there and when I asked where this water came from, he responded, “this is part of the Jordan river.  It flows under this church, you know.  See, look outside.”  As I turned and peered out of one of the tall windows in stone wall, I could see the Jordan sparkling in the sun.  I ran outside of the church and stopped at the bank of the river.  For a moment I just gazed at the water, and then I walked in.  I swam out towards the middle and just floated in the water.  And then suddenly it hit me, I’m swimming in the same water Jesus was baptized in.  And I began weeping at this realization.  I was where Christ had been…in the same water…and I could feel His presence there so strongly.  And so I just floated there in the water with Him.  And it was so peaceful. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished to have that same dream again.  In this busy crazy world, with all the noise and all the hurry, it’s so hard to find that quiet moment with our precious Lord to just…be.  So imagine my surprise when I heard my Father’s voice above the noise of the TV blaring and my two sons having Wrestlemania 95 in the den and the phone ringing and the Blackberry dinging…

The Jordan is more than just a place of peace…it’s a place of transition.  

Um, what?

Transition.  And transition brings waiting.  Wait with Me?

Wait for what, God?

Shhhh…just float.

It took me a little time to process that.  Thankfully, my amazing husband took my sweet boys to dinner to give me a little quiet time to think…and type of course.  After leaving Egypt and then wandering around in the wilderness, the Israelites finally crossed the Jordan into the land God promised (Joshua 3).  And of course, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan and was immediately led by the Spirit into the wilderness after which He began His ministry (Mark 1:9-13).  Elijah and Elisha crossed over the Jordan just before Elijah was taken into heaven and Elisha crossed back over the Jordan and took on the cloak of Elijah and became his successor (2 Kings 2).  So yes then…it does seem that the Jordan is about transition.  But I’m not so excited about the waiting part.  I’m all for transitions, God.  Um, I mean as long as they end up somewhere good.  Ahem.  But I’m not a good wait-er.  I was then reminded of one of my favorite verses:

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

 

Sometimes God has us in places of transition and with these transitions, there must be a time of waiting.  But that waiting isn’t ever wasted.  It isn’t God withholding anything from us.  It’s a time of preparation.  A time for us to renew our strength, to draw near to our Beloved, to sometimes just, well…float.  We aren’t just waiting ON the Lord, we are waiting WITH Him.  His presence is there in the blue-green water, swirling around us.  Spirit and Truth, refreshing us as we swim in His grace.  And as you float with the Ancient of Days in the cool waters of the Jordan, you can know with a peace that passes all understanding that He has a plan for you, a transition that will come…but for now, He may just want to wait with you.  So, shhh…just float.