a collection of steps

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Puzzle Pieces

In Bible, Christ, focus, Jesus, purpose, Scripture, stress, Truth on August 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

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It was complicated. Three hundred pieces cut in the oddest shapes I’d ever seen for a puzzle. Some I swore were edge pieces and for a while was frustrated that they weren’t fitting into the frame with the other edge pieces. If you’re like me, you put the edges together first, then work on the various sections that appear to go together, carefully studying the full image to navigate through the picture. But not everyone does it that way.

One puzzle friend of mine never looks at the picture on the box. She believes that’s cheating and so she constructs puzzles solely by their shapes. I nearly laughed out loud when she told me her strategy. To me, her method is ridiculous, especially when she grabs a piece that is totally unrelated in color then turns it round and round to try to make it fit. I watch this and think what a waste of time that is; to not even consider the colors, their patterns, direction or curvatures seems crazy and frustrating to say the least. Yet, after completing over a dozen puzzles with her, I have learned that her technique works well for her; it’s what she knows and her trained eye is like radar, zeroing in on just the right piece. (Need I mention that her patience level is higher than mine?)

Still, I derive no satisfaction from her methodology. I prefer studying the image on the box top, absorbing its wholeness, beauty and nuances. I hold pieces up to it, attempt to match the color and then estimate the piece’s location in the enlarged frame on the table. I relish the mounting anticipation of accomplishment as each piece clicks perfectly into its proper place, revealing increasingly more of the final picture.

This particular puzzle, however, was disturbing. As I said, pieces were not cut in the traditional shapes and so it wasn’t as enjoyable. Many pieces simply rested next to each other without hooking. And, when I’d match up those non-hooked pieces, I didn’t feel the same satisfaction. It was almost as if I was worried they would fall apart or shift; I couldn’t rest until their surrounding pieces held them securely in place.

As I do with everything, I contemplated how this puzzle compared to life. The Holy Bible has always been the picture on the box for me and each event of my life a piece to the picture. At a very young age, I learned to hold up each piece of my life against God’s Word, studying its pattern, nuance and color to see where it fits in His final image of who I should be. In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul said that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” Paul taught in all the churches he visited that Jesus is the picture of what we should work to create from our lives; that all the pieces of our life should fit together to reflect Him.

That being said, I think it is a colossal waste of time to sit and stare only at the shape of an event or circumstance in our life, continually turning it round and round to make it fit with the other pieces in our life without even looking at the big picture to see where it should go. Instead, unless we have great patience, we get frustrated and walk away, leaving the pieces in a pile for someone else to figure out.

I realize this may be a simplified metaphor of living a life that pleases God, but I believe that living the life God planned for us is easier than we make it. I believe we complicate the puzzle by refusing to look at the Creator’s final image: His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of holding up each of our pieces against the model He gave in Jesus’ life on earth, we frustrate ourselves by turning the circumstance round and round, trying to force it to fit where we want it to fit—where it was not created to fit.

Yes, it’s tempting to get angry and give up when life’s puzzle pieces aren’t traditionally cut; when they don’t fit nicely together the way other puzzle pieces fit. And yes, it’s tempting to look at a piece and think, I know this one doesn’t go with this puzzle. But if it came out of the box, it goes with the puzzle; it’s just a matter of effort and patience to find its place in the big picture.

Are you struggling with a piece of your life? Trust me, it fits in God’s final picture for your life. In His sovereignty He allowed it to happen. It has a place somewhere amongst all the other pieces and from His perspective, it’s beautiful.

~CCS

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Author’s Note: I dedicate this article to my wonderful Editor, Debbie Adlof, who, over the 14 years she has owned, edited and published the Community Word has become a dear friend. Debbie, thank you for letting me write this column in the Community Word and never once censoring my content, despite the mounting public outcry against God’s Word in public venues. Even if you disagreed with my articles, you never let me know and printed them in full. You have always been wonderful to me, though I have been chronically late with my submissions (even on your last issue!). Thank you for your kindness, respect and friendship. May God bless you richly as you focus your attention on your family and any other pursuits He has for you. Believe me, your puzzle, when complete, will be a beautiful picture God created out of beautiful you!

Dialogue

In believe, Bible, communication, healing, Jesus, Scripture on October 14, 2009 at 4:43 pm

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I’ve never fully understood the phrase, “ears to hear” until today.  As a writer, I must have “ears to hear” if I am writing dialogue in order to keep each voice unique.

But today as I was reading  chapter nine of the Gospel of John in my Bible I laughed out loud.  Almost the entire chapter was dialogue and as I read it, other phrases popped in my head, like: “Duh!”  “deer in the headlights” “What, are you deaf?” and a few more.  You’ll see what I mean when you read this dialogue:

DISCIPLES:  Who sinned, this man or his parents?

JESUS:  Neither. (turning to MAN) Go wash in the pool.

(MAN washes clay off eyes in pool and gains his sight.)

BYSTANDERS:  Is this he who was blind?

OTHERS:  He is like him.

MAN:  I am he.

OTHERS:  How were your eyes opened?

MAN:  A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me to wash in the pool.

OTHERS:  Where is He?

MAN:  I don’t know.

(OTHERS take MAN to church – it was Sunday)

PRIESTS:  Tell us again how you received your sight?

MAN:  I told you already, He put clay on my eyes and I washed and I see!

PRIESTS: (amongst themselves) How can a sinner do such signs?

(MAN shrugs)

PRIESTS: What was it you called Him again?

MAN:  He is a Prophet.

PRIESTS:  Go call the man’s parents.

(MAN’s PARENTS come to the front of the church)

PRIESTS:  Is this your son?

PARENTS:  Yes.

PRIESTS:  Was he born blind?

PARENTS:  Yes.

PRIESTS:  So, how come now he can see?

PARENTS:  We don’t know, ask him, he’s an adult and can answer for himself!

PRIESTS:  Are you sure he was born blind?

PARENTS:  We’re sure.

PRIESTS:  So, how did he get his sight?

PARENTS:  Ask him!  He can answer for himself – don’t involve us!

(PRIESTS call MAN back – MAN returns)

PRIESTS: Listen carefully, you are to give glory to God for healing you – not this Man you call a Prophet, He is a sinner!

MAN:  Whether He is a sinner or not, this I know: I once was blind, but now I see.

PRIESTS:  What did He do to you?  How did He open your eyes?

MAN: (very irritated) I told you already and you didn’t listen!  Why do you want to hear it again – so you can become His disciples?

(dialogue continues back and forth in this fashion for a few more verses.  Finally, MAN is kicked out of church after PRIESTS claim MAN is insulting their intelligence and knowledge of Scripture – JESUS sees MAN walking out of church)

JESUS: Do you believe in the Son of God?

MAN:  Who is He?  I want to know so that I can believe.

JESUS:  It’s Me, the one talking to you.

MAN:  Lord!  I believe!  (MAN falls down and worships)

JESUS:  I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.

(MAN was blind PRIESTS were deaf.  MAN sees, PRIESTS still deaf.)

THE END

MORAL: “ears to hear” are attached to the heart, not the head.

Surprised?

In believe, faith, Jesus on September 8, 2009 at 10:13 am

As a child I was fascinated by the road.The Way Forward sign in the sky

We had a station wagon and relatives out west so in the summer we would pack it full and head that way for vacation. I managed to talk my Dad into letting me sit next to him by promising to be still.  No problem. My eyes were glued to his every move.

I caught on fairly fast that the road signs sometimes changed my Dad’s actions. If a sign had big numbers he would either slow down or speed up.  If the signs were green or brown, he might turn the wheel to the right and our wagon would curve in a big arc. That was cool because it made my little body lean real close to him and it wasn’t my fault.

Dad taught me what signs were for and how to read them. I’m grateful for that training as it really comes in handy when I’m the one behind the wheel. What I like about them is they tell.

Road signs tell me where I am, how to get where I’m going, warn me of dangers, measure my progress and build my anticipation. When signs are not there, I get lost.

This summer I began a journey through the Gospels of Jesus in my Bible. I’m now in Luke and today finished Chapter 2. My eyes are glued on what God is doing behind the wheel and a big sign is forming in my understanding: God provides clear signs for my safe travel.

God’s road signs started back in the Garden of Eden where he placed a big one that said, “Steer clear of this tree!” When they failed to heed that sign, He promised Eve that from her womb would come One Man who would cancel the curse of evil she and Adam were now under.  Throughout the subsequent years until that Man, Jesus Christ, was born, signs were there, telling, warning, measuring and building anticipation.

What I see now is how surprised everyone was when he finally arrived. Even his parents, after having one-on-one personal, supernatural visits from God’s angel, with clear instructions on what was about to happen and what to name the child, still marveled when shepherds rushed into the stable, prophets grabbed their child in the temple and openly  proclaimed his deity and kings showed up at their doorstep with gold. Am I saying they shouldn’t have marveled? No way. Who wouldn’t? Everything God does is marvelous.

But, as I read through the entire Gospel (it’s especially clearer in Mark), there is a pattern of surprise.

Surprise? Why? Did they not see the signs? Did they not read them? No. the signs pointing to the Messiah were well documented and taught throughout the generations. The problem was not in their lack of knowing, it was in their lack of believing. The surprise expressed by those who encountered Jesus was directly correlated to their level of belief or unbelief. It still is.

This lack of belief is what keeps floating to the surface in the Gospels. Near the beginning of his ministry Jesus comments on his disciple’s lack of belief and understanding. But as their time together increased, he became irritated, then incredulous and in the end hurt by their unbelief.

How convicting!  I have been an eye-witness to his incredible power both in my life and in others and still, after all these years of walking with him, I doubt!

Those who approached him with the faith of a child got what they asked for and he honored them openly for their belief. Those who tried to process his works and words through their logic, their pride or their ‘God-box’ were confused and/or offended.

Why are we surprised when God shows up? Believe the signs.

Wagging

In Christ, God, healing, Jesus, judging, relationships on August 13, 2009 at 9:16 am

Throughout my life as a Christian, I’ve succumbed to certain beliefs and ways of thinking that I now see stunted my growth.

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One in particular I will refer to as “if this, then that.”  Most techies know this phrase as the logical formula on which computer programs function, but this formula is actually quite ancient. In fact, I was shocked when I read it in my Bible!

“If he is the King of the Jews, let him now come down from the cross and we will believe him!” This statement taken from Matthew 27:42, is one in several that were hurled at Jesus as he hung bloody and ripped to shreds on a cruel cross.

The waggers said, if this, then that. How foolish to box God up so that only one conclusion could be drawn by the scene in front of them!

Matthew begins this scene (verse 39) by saying, “And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads.”

Then it struck me. How often have I been the victim of wagging?  People who have no clue of my background, my circumstances or my purpose in life look at me as they pass by and draw a faulty conclusion: if this…then that!

Worse, how often have I passed by others, glanced at their current situation and mocked, if this, then that!

Could Jesus have saved himself?  Of course!  He said as much in the Garden of Gethsemane when his ‘friend’ betrayed him. He calmly told his disciples, who were incensed by the mob assembled with swords surrounding their Savior, “…do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”

Wow. A legion is one thousand. Jesus could have had 12,000 angels at his side – instantly – to deliver him from the piddly earthly mob.  The swords of earth’s iron would melt in the presence of God’s army of angels wielding swords of fire. It wouldn’t have mattered though, because in the very moment the angels appeared, those mighty men, puffed up on power  and piety, would have dropped their swords, peed their pants and fainted!  What a scene THAT would have been.

But Jesus had a purpose. He told his disciples in that dark garden that if he called the angels, “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

We were each created for a purpose. First to be redeemed from our sin and then to please God. This may play out in a zillion ways, for each of us has a path to follow. But how painful it is when God has us in that path and we are met on the road by waggers!

Moreover, how shameful it is for us to wag our heads at those around us who appear to be fake, foolish or out of God’s will and mock!

Scripture warns us on wagging: “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4

The challenge then is to stay on the path God has chosen for us and to abstain from judging the progress of others.

Lord, forgive me for wagging my head at others. I have no idea what you are doing in their lives and I am sorry for presuming that I do. And, please heal me from the wounds I have sustained from others who have wagged their heads at me.

Love Smells.

In Christ, fragrance, garden, God, Jesus, love, marriage on May 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Breathe.

That’s the one-word advice I give to newly engaged couples.

Breathe when things get tense.  Breathe when everything around you stinks. Breathe when the inevitable storms of life threaten your dreams.

Catch wind of her scent when everything she says and does confuses you.  Take a deep whiff of those roses he brings home when everything he doesn’t say and doesn’t do hurts you.

I’m sure God had couples in mind when he planted the first flowers.  He knew, as we now know, that marriage gets challenging after the honeymoon.  He also knew that the simple act of breathing can harness the tongue and allow love’s aroma to prevail when all else reeks.

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God knew that the force of fragrance could penetrate the heart even when the curtains are drawn on the windows of the eye and the passageway of the ear is plugged by stubborn selfishness.

It is no wonder then, that God began his plans for the first couple’s wedding in a garden.  In fact, he spent five days designing their first home (with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, 2 Peter 3:8 NIV).

After laying the foundation and installing the plumbing; after making sure everything was in good working order and all was mathematically correct, God became frivolous. When it was time to decorate, he flamboyantly carpeted and dressed their home with exquisite trimmings of every kind – crowning it with an endless array of breathtaking blossoms.

But God doesn’t get frivolous without a purpose.  His flowers were to play a vital role in love’s timeless message.  There, hidden in the frail and vulnerable petals, God placed power – power that could force the stench of hate and bitterness out of our cities, our homes and our hearts.

Shortly after their wedding, the first couple made a devastating choice.  Though that choice separated them from the Lover of their soul, God knew love was not in danger of extinction.  His fragrant presence was restored through a flower – the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley – Jesus Christ, his only Son.

Love took on the fragrance of death, he shed his blood and though the stench of the world’s sins hung on his flesh and God had to look away, Death’s decay gave way to the sweetest smell on earth – redemption.

So breathe.

Breathe God’s frivolous love when you can’t see a way out.  Breathe when your hearing is impaired by lies from the god of self.  Breathe his salvation into your soul by saying, “I do” to him at the altar of your heart – and may the fragrance of his love always fill your home.