Monday, February 2, 2009

Labeling puzzle pieces

Last month I wrote a post about how difficult it is to put together a puzzle without knowing what the finished picture is supposed to look like. Seeing the spiritual application, I pontificated about how we often try to put together the puzzle pieces of our own lives instead of trusting God, Who sees the finished picture.

As insightful as I thought that was, I hadn't yet realized the depths of my benightedness.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster in our lives. Quit job. Go to Pa. Find buyers for house in Ga. Lose buyers for house. Find new buyers for house. Find house to buy in Pa. Can't afford it; find different house to buy. Not available yet . . .

These are all pieces of our puzzle right now, and I'm trusting that God will put each piece in its proper place. I realized something else this past week, though.

Not only do I have no idea how to assemble the pieces of my own puzzle, but I also realized I have this absurd habit of trying to label the pieces I'm handed as "good" or "bad."

Got a buyer . . . good piece.
Lost the buyer . . . bad piece.
Got an offer . . . good piece.

You get the idea.

It reminded me of a story I once read in a Max Lucado book. It's sort of long, so I'll try to paraphrase:

Once there was a man in a tiny village. Although poor, he owned a beautiful white horse. Many people offered to buy the horse, but he would not sell it. One morning the horse was gone, and the villagers scoffed. "You old fool, we told you that someone would steal your horse. It would have been better to have sold him. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable.

That is all we know; the rest is judgment.”
The people of the village laughed and thought that the man was crazy.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.
Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that
a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

The old man had a son, an only son, who began to break the wild horses. After a few
days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments. “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse." Of course, the old man tried again to set them straight.

A few weeks later the country went to war. All the young men of the village were required to join the army except the son of the old man because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s
accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

I think you get the point.

Well, maybe. I first thought the point was this: How silly we are to think that we can label the pieces of our lives as "good" or "bad."

But, God takes it farther than that. We can label the pieces, He says. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (emphasis mine) Every piece is good because it is placed by the One Who created our picture in the first place.

Some pieces will be painful, no doubt, but we can trust that God has a purpose for those pieces even if we can't see what it is. "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thes. 5:16-18

It may not sound as Biblical, but you know what they say . . . it's all good.


Greg said...

Thanks for sharing that Becky. It was very encouraging to me as we are packing up and saying goodbye to lots of people. You can relate, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Beck, just what I needed to hear tonight. You can see I am reading wayyyyyyy back into your post instead of studying.....

BTW, the "word verification" so-called "word" is "skingene"....what kind of "word" is THAT????? (Sure, now it changes to "static." Nice.)