Friday, November 27, 2020

Life in Pieces

God has always been faithful to give His people a vision, even today. He is good about setting before us something that we can see Him making of our lives, helping us to discover the path that He's laying out before us. 

The challenge is that, given our limited human understanding, things aren't always what they seem. Sometimes, God brings us in one door just to get us accustomed to a grander idea that He's working toward and then, once we think we start to understand what He's doing, He starts to tweak it. 

This requires a couple of things from us, things that aren't necessarily easy. The first is that we have to be willing to hold onto this life God's given us with open hands. We can't let ourselves get too attached to the first thing God is doing because it might not be the big thing He's doing. We can't let ourselves ever think "This is exactly it, this is perfectly and wholly what God wants from me" because we know that God is constantly growing and changing His people. He is constantly calling us to other places. 

Just look at Paul. You could say that Paul did the same thing for much of his adult life, at least for much of his ministry. He traveled from place and place and preached and taught and challenged the believers who lived in those places. He helped to build churches and establish the ways of the faith in a very vast and diverse region. And yet, we cannot pretend that Paul did exactly the same thing in Corinth that he did in Ephesus that he did in Rome. Each was its own place with its own challenges and its own needs. In one place, Paul was meeting believers down by the rivers and in another, he was standing in the public square. In yet another, he was charming the guards of the prisons. If Paul had latched on to the exact style and shape of his ministry in, say, Damascus, right after receiving his sight, he would never have had the impact that God wanted him to have in these other places. Because what worked in Damascus would not have worked in Thessalonica.

So the first thing we have to learn is to not hold too tightly to one way of doing things or one idea that God has because whatever we do, even if it looks like the same thing, is going to grow and change as God challenge us to grow and change. That's the way that God works. 

The second thing we have to figure out is how to not move too quickly. This one's a lot harder, especially for me. You see, I think I understand what God is wanting to do with my life, at least in a general sense. But then, He starts tweaking it. He starts introducing the little ways that He's going to change it, usually one little way at a time. 

And it's tempting for me to want to jump and say, "Ah, yes, Lord! I get it!" and then run out and try to find a way to make the new thing work. I want to put that new piece into action right away, find a place to start loving others out of this new thing God is calling me to. 

The problem with this is that even when I move in faith on the new little piece God has given me, I may still end up in the wrong place. Because this one thing may not be the whole thing. And often, it isn't. I go out and excitedly jump into a new venture that requires this new thing, and then I realize that what I've been able to come up with - the limited imagination that I have - has usually overfocused on the new thing and missed something of the old that I wasn't supposed to let go of yet. Or it has failed to consider the things that I still don't know and tried to just fill in the blanks with my own excitement. 

That's really the problem - trying to fill in the blanks with my own enthusiasm at the very same moment that I'm trying to catch hold of God's enthusiasm for something. I get so excited when I see the way that He is changing and shaping my calling, creating a new vision for my life right before my very eyes, and I'm just excited to move. I'm just excited to go. I'm just excited to get started. But so often, I don't know what getting started looks like...or even what I'm starting. I only have one extra piece; I'm not really ready to move yet, except that I can't seem to stay still. 

But I'm trying to learn. Because what I've learned without wanting to learn it is that it can be devastating and discouraging to move too quickly without enough information. It is heartbreaking to feel like you finally know, and then to realize there's something you're still missing. It is hard to keep putting yourself in places you want to be sure of and finding out that something is still not quite right. It makes it feel like God is the moving target when, in fact, it's just me that's moving too fast. 

And I'm not saying that we shouldn't move on the things that God wants us to move on. That's not it at all. I don't want to make us afraid to move. But we have to know where we're moving and why. We have to make our first instinct not motion, but devotion. We have to make our first reaction not unbridled enthusiasm, but humble thankfulness. Our first response has to be to pray, to thank God for giving us this new piece of vision and to ask Him to keep clarifying it for us. doesn't have to be today. It doesn't have to be right now. We don't have to take whatever little thing God gives us and make it happen right now. Rather, we have to understand that it is something that God is making happen right now and whenever we finally see it, it will be in His perfect timing. We have to be content to wait. Because that one little piece God might be giving you right now is absolutely important, but it may not be enough to move on. It may not be the whole thing. And if we jump too fast, we'll still find ourselves far from where we want to be when, ironically, where we want to be is right here, right now - in His hands. 

So let God give you a vision. Let Him grow and change it before your very eyes. Let Him give you a new piece here and there, and keep praying for understanding and opportunity. But let God be the one to tell you when to move because He's the one putting this thing together and all the passion and excitement and enthusiasm in all the world will never fill in the blanks as beautifully as He's going to if we just keep, prayerfully, waiting to see it. And when it's time, you'll know. It will be so perfect, you won't be able to miss it. 

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