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Posts Tagged ‘God’s plan’

Body of Christ 2I like putting jigsaw puzzles together. My family thinks this hobby is one of the lamest activities of all time. The only other person who enjoys them is my brother when he visits for the holidays or comes along to the beach.

Usually, it’s just me and a thousand little pieces. And yet slowly, even the most difficult puzzle, will come together. A whole emerges from all the slivers. I love putting in that last piece, always with a breath of satisfaction. But nothing is worse than a missing piece: disappeared as the result of cat sprawl or a son and his pizza box.

All the pieces are needed, even the seemingly identical blue ones from the sky or the monotonous gray from the shadows. A finished picture is ruined by the loss of even one small fragment. It doesn’t matter where the gap lies in the puzzle, it’s loss is felt, the eye straying to the tiny abyss.

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  [I Corinthians 12:24b-27, The Voice translation]

If I can understand this concept in a puzzle, why is it so hard to really embrace the idea when it comes to the Body of Believers? Is it just because some (most) are different from me? Can’t I suspend my judgments long enough to allow them to play out their role, their part in the “God Scheme” of things?

Wretched truly am I.

When I start working on a puzzle, I usually tackle it the same way every time: edge pieces first, then I look for the most vibrant colors or stand out images in the overall picture, then I look for patterns and long lines, and slowly, my box of remaining pieces becomes more and more monochromatic.

This is how I must look at the Body too. I am easily drawn to the people with clearly defined gifts and abilities, then there are the very talented ones who shine in any group, and then there are the organized ones who work to bring order out of chaos. But the rest become a blur.

In a puzzle, in order to figure out where the same color pieces go, it’s a matter of looking for a tiny, but identifiable mark or a specific shape that will only snug up to its likely friends.

I need to give much more attention to Body who have been indistinguishable. It’s time to honor their individuality by even the smallest gift because everyone has something to give to community. And as each gift comes forward, something beautiful begins to emerge. And soon, it’s not just flat sky, but clouds and mist and rain even. It’s time to look. It’s time to honor the pieces of the whole and give thanks for them.

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When prisoner Paul was on his way to Rome by sea, he warned the ship’s pilot that a storm was coming. But on the day they started out, there was just a “gentle south wind” and all seemed well. How often do we start out in a gentle wind only to be shocked by a windy reversal?

Acts 27:14-15
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we [the ship that was carrying Paul to Rome] gave way to it and were driven along.

I have had wind on the mind all week. It’s been really windy in our area, so much so that we lost two huge Beech trees that broke off at the midway point in our back yard. What a mess. The wind has been almost a constant. This week I realized I don’t really like wind. I don’t like its relentlessness.

I’m not talking about a gentle breeze that cools the skin on a hot day or a even a a few gusts that come and go. I mean wind that bends the trees and jangles the heavy wind chimes outside my window.

In Paul’s story, the ship’s pilot was so sure that light wind was a good omen. And I’m certain he was well seasoned and knew the signs and ways of the sea. And yet, the storm came all the same. How many times have I set out on ventures that appeared to be smooth sailing on the surface but turned into gale force winds unexpectedly.

I have based many a decision on outward signs alone. I did not seek the unseen forces that can only be found through prayer and meditation. I’m not just talking about small decisions, but big ones like getting married, getting divorced, moving to New York, leaving New York, getting married again, starting a new job, changing jobs, and so forth. At the outset, each and every choice seemed reasonable and appropriate at the time, but I cannot say those decisions were made with much prayer. In fact, I confess the real praying didn’t start in earnest until the wind start really blowing.

What happens then? Honestly, once the big winds start, there is rarely anything can be done. In Paul’s day, they could no longer control or steer the ship and so they “gave way to it.”

I have tried battling the winds of some of my decisions. But the truth is, sometimes we just need to let go. Give the ship to God and wait for the storm to settle. Then, and only then, can we really assess what happened or why. But more importantly, only then can we ask God to show us the next step.

This is not unlike Rescue. We must ride the circumstances to some degree until some calm comes to the moment.

For a season, I tried to teach myself to enjoy roller coasters. They are basically harmless and yet their appeal is in calling forth some basic fears of falling, heights, and speed (very windy!). There was a roller coaster (one of those “mouse” types) that just about did me in as the individual cars rounded corners with the front end hanging off the edge. I pretty sure I compressed my son’s hand into a pancake. But I couldn’t stop the experience in the middle. I couldn’t get off the roller coaster. I had to ride it to the end. I survived. And then I made some new decisions. I figured out that I don’t need to go that way. I can skip that roller coaster next time.

There is one other thing that can help in a stormy, windy situation: to be grounded in a God relationship beforehand. Even if I screw up and don’t specifically prepare my soul for my next storm, I know I can trust in the God who has been carrying me through regular days up until then.

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Matthew 7:7
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Which door will I choose if these three are before me:

  1. Behind door number one are all the experiences that God has for me today. Some may be wonderful but some may be difficult. There will be both sorrow and joy.
  2. Behind door number two will be only the experiences that I want to devise. I can have total control over them. I would know before I opened the door what to expect.
  3. Behind door number three would be the experiences that someone else would select for me. I could choose the person who would pick them out for me. I could probably guess what would be there based on the person who I select to design my day.

We all know what the answer should be. If only we could trust God with our lives each day. Sometimes, I trust God enough to open door number one, but then, when I peek inside, I slam it shut.

Today, I have a follow-up appointment for my teenaged daughter who, apparently, has inflammation of the spine (rheumatoid arthritis). Today, we will hear what her prognosis and treatment plan will be. As much as I would like this part of the day to be behind door number two or even three, I must open door number one in faith. Give me the grace I need. Give her some too.

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