All the Missing Pieces

All the missing pieces. The tiny things we hold onto. Pieces, once compiled, can create disasters.

It’s funny all the things we collect. A puzzle piece, tiny screws, rubber bands, it’s all sure to come in handy someday. We hold onto it, hoping that someday we’ll find the game the piece fell out of, or the chair missing it’s screw. 

I’ve been cleaning a bit lately. Not that staying organized is my forte, it isn’t, but at least getting organized is doable. As I’ve been cleaning, I’ve come across so much junk. Stuff that could be so helpful, but if you don’t use it, it just collects dust. We all have junk drawers, or in some cases, junk closets, maybe a garage? The point isn’t how much stuff you’ve collected or even how helpful it could be. What are you doing with it?

Organizing everything has put things into perspective in my own life. We go through life collecting all these little things. Broken or missing pieces. Hoping to find their home one day, but when it boils down to it, we end up with an ice cream pail of rusty nails, rubber bands, and legos. All things that can be helpful, but we’re saving them. For that lego set, or the deck of cards. It’s good to save, there are times to wait, but holding on to all these things may just hold you back. 

There is an amazing skill that God has given to each of us. In fact, I believe he gives us multiple skills, but the problem occurs when we sit down thinking about them all. Waiting for the answer to fall in our laps, or the pieces to fall into place before the project’s begun. Sometimes we get clear direction. ‘A voice from above’ if you will, but honestly, it isn’t always that way. It’s funny, my pastor was just talking about this on Sunday. “I’d rather be running where I think God wants me to go and have him say ‘Hold up, slow down, you aren’t quite ready for that yet, let’s take this path,’ than to be sitting on my couch like some couch potato while the Holy Spirit whispers ‘Get up! We have places to be, so many amazing things to do.” 

Unfortunately, I often respond, “Eh, I’ll pray about it.” And pray about it I will (probably), but is my praying legit or just words I say as my excuse to not do what I know I should? Is it adding this calling to the ‘missing pieces’ jar of stuff to be used someday? Use it. Use the talents God’s given you. Step out in faith. He won’t let you down. That’s not to say get cocky and do whatever cause you can do no wrong. I’ve been there. Doing it on your own doesn’t really work that well. Stick with him. Ask him to reveal to you his heart. He will over time. 

God is calling you. He made you with a purpose in mind and you’re the perfect person for the job. Be the EMT. The first responder. Sure, he’s God, he can use anyone to accomplish his will, but the cool thing is, he wants you.

Unless You Die

Today’s a bit unique. I can’t explain why this came to me, but it seems a good allegory. Do you ever struggle to let go? Who are you letting control your life, God or fear?

A tree just outside our house was struck by lightning this evening. It was a majestic tree. I loved to watch the tree blossom each spring. As I gazed at the tree, half strewn across the lawn, I began to wonder what type of stories that tree might have within its layers. Here is it’s “story”. 

If I could tell you a story, one for every year, the shelves in the library would be full. Some stories would be filled with laughter; like the one in which the boy and his sister spent nearly the whole year by my side, sledding, building snow forts, biking, and tossing that old football up and down the luscious grass before me. There are tales with unfortunate sequences, a mother longing for her son’s understanding, bridges broken and nearly impossible to recover. Yet, even in these dark, unread stories, I could point you to the hope that shone in her eyes. Or remind you of the hugs that happened that dreary, December night. 

The flowers came and went, my leaves died, but after a winter of restoration, they returned unfailing every spring. Hope. That’s what I like to call myself, one who points others to Jesus. Under me I long that animals can find shelter from rain and people shelter from the scorching sun. The joy that comes when I share a quiet afternoon with a young boy chasing his dreams through his latest series of books is something that can’t be beat. I’m the shelter. I listen when you’re alone. My oak leaves contain secrets that I will never tell. 

For years, I’ve watched you grow. Not just you, but all who seek refuge here. My glory has not always been so great for I too was once a weak sapling. But by God’s mercy, he sent the rain. My roots sank deep into rich soils. There I hid your secrets. I had such a lovely time with you and all who entertained me in decades gone by. Now I’m no longer a towering beauty on your lawn. I can’t be a refuge when the sun’s too hot, but I hope that maybe, just maybe, as you poured your heart out and wept in the loss, you heard God’s whisper as his fingers toyed with my leaves. As you dreamed your millions of dreams, I hope you noticed the intricate patterns and shapes carved by my maker. While you laid below my bows, gazing at the stars, I don’t doubt you noticed the song twinkling above. The one God sings to you and me as we grew. It’s soft and ever so sweet. 

Now that I’m gone, don’t forget God’s goodness. Don’t forget the awe of his majesty. I was here for a time, but now he will reflect his glory in numerous ways I can’t begin to predict. I’ve enjoyed my time planted here in this small town, but now I hope to move on and touch others. Maybe I’ll be the frame that holds a family together. My wood may be chopped to give people warmth in these brutal winters. Maybe people will continue to laugh and cry around the new oak table. Sometimes, you have to die to what you think is good for you to reach everyone God has for you to reach. I always thought this spot on the westward hill was mine forever. I cherished every moment as you should as well, but when God moves you forward, don’t hesitate. Often it hurts, and sometimes, it takes a strike of lightning to catch our attention, but he’ll work it for good.

Psalm 19:1 (ESV)

1 The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

John 12:24-25 (ESV)

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Don’t Lose the Dream

“Fear, he is a liar.” Let’s scream that from the rooftops. The song by Zach Williams seems relevant in many aspects of daily life. I never thought I struggled with fear or anxiety. Of all the things that I’ve struggled with I’d been grateful to not need to fight that battle. Okay, maybe it was more like a severe case of denial.

I dream and I love dreaming. I want to zip from one idea to the next, connecting the dots as I zoom along. It’s led me to difficulty at times because well dreaming is fun, acting on a dream requires a plan in which all the dots are connected and I often miss a dot, or five. When something goes wrong, it’s so easy to give in to fear. Satan likes to mock us, reminding us over and over about our inadequacies. No matter how many times we tell ourselves it’s a lie, we continually fall into the trap. How can we escape from this looming monster? 

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Whoa, that sounds way too easy. Is that all it is? In my experience, that is all it takes to overcome the looming giant of fear. So what’s the big deal? Why is this such a struggle? Every time I fall into the pit of fear, I try to climb out alone. “I can do it!” So I run and jump but miss the edge. Each attempt, no matter how creative, sinks me deeper. Why do I try so hard to make it on my own? God is right there at the top edge. He’s already dangled the lifeline, all I need to do is hold on, letting go of myself and clinging to the only hope I have. 

That does not make our struggle easier. I know people who struggle with anxiety at a much deeper level. It doesn’t seem to be rooted in anything particularl, but it is crippling. I wish there were easy answers to our struggles as we all do, but somehow, God will take what is our “worst part” and make something beautiful. 

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Who is called according to his purpose? Is this an elite group of people? Suddenly, our inadequacies fire back up scaring us away from God’s promises. Those who are called according to his purpose are all of us. God has called each of us in accordance with his purpose. He is the maker of our dreams. When we hit roadblocks, pray. Before we even start we need to pray. It’s more than fulfilling a calling, it’s a relationship and God wants to be in it every step of the way. Our weakest moments are often the best if given to God because as Second Corinthians says:

2 Corinthians 12:9

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

When you are weak, fear not. Press on with the dream. Of course, continue prayerfully with Christ, but don’t let the fear of inadequacy overtake you. “[His] power is made perfect in weakness.” God is strong enough. He is big enough. He will overcome mountains to accomplish his will. Most wonderfully of all, he wants us to be a part of it!