Purposeful Faith

Category - hope

Life is a Puzzle, Without the Full View

Life is a Puzzle, But We're Missing the Full View

Post By: Angela Parlin

Some nights, my little girl stops me from heading out of her bedroom after I’ve tucked her in.

Before I move on to the next kid’s room, she needs me to help her sort through scary questions, unfathomable for a just-turned-9 year-old. Matters of life and death and everything in-between.

It’s a gift to talk deep with her, because I get to point her to the HOPE I know, again and again.

I get to help her see where Jesus resides within the gains and the losses of this world.

But it also tears my heart out. She’s seen enough now to know it’s not all going to be okay. Not in the way we would like it to be.

She’s seen the broken way of things here. She’s walked through loss and several near-losses with us. She’s wiped tears and cut out pink heart-shaped cards, adding stickers and cursive I love you’s. She’s served up comfort in mugs of hot tea with a side of dark chocolate & almonds.

She knows things I wish she didn’t know.

It’s a terrible world, one with ISIS and earthquakes and anger and leaving and loss. It’s a world where we sometimes shake our heads and cry and say I don’t know. I don’t understand.

Recently a friend of ours lost his sister suddenly. She was younger than me.

She’d had a hard run, and when he stood to speak at her funeral, he said, It seemed like she could never really catch a break in life.

He shared what he has left of her, his memories. He talked about how she loved to put together 5,000-piece puzzles, and laughed that there was one currently spread across a table at Mom and Dad’s house–missing that one piece like always. Then he asked a question, and it left a lasting picture in my mind.

What’s the most important part of a puzzle?

It’s the top of the box. The completed view.

The picture of how things are supposed to look in the end.

Without that, we don’t know where we’re headed.

Without it, the puzzle doesn’t make sense.

That day, remembering his sister, was a little like putting together a puzzle without the box top. Without that one missing piece.

Why did God allow it? We don’t know. Will it all be okay? Yes, and also no.

What we do know: Jesus resides within the loss. It hurts, and God still moves. He is working toward the good of drawing us each to Him. One day, the losses will end. He will bring so much beauty out of all this chaos.

It will be okay, but only because Jesus never loses the view of the top of the box.

It will be okay, because of Who God is–the Eternal God and the Everlasting Father. Because He is Good and He cares for us. Because He is full of Mercy and Kindness and Grace. It will be okay, because we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand.

We see blurred images in this mirror, but one day we will see clearly.

Life is a puzzle, and today we’re missing the finished view.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, NLT

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

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When You Don’t Feel Able

Don't Feel Able

God called me to write a book.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to [Gideon] and said to him,
“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (Ju. 6:12)

This summer, God has felt not felt “with me” and I’ve felt not a smidgeon mighty.

I wrote this thing last winter, with power, but this season, I lamented.

Everything broke. My knee got hurt; I couldn’t exercise. My shoulder continued to hurt; it wouldn’t stop. My house was isolated; I knew no one. Kids camps got cancelled; my time got cut short. Rejections came; my heart got burdened. I re-read the words of the book; doubt covered me.

If you remove the promises of God
from the work of your hands,
you’ll land in the dirt of defeat and doubt.

And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Judges 6:13)

And Kelly said to God,
“Why has this happened to me? Where are your wonderful deeds?
Did you not say 
you would use this book, me, and my life?
But now you have forgotten me and left me looking up unscalable heights.” 

Don't Feel Able

I haven’t learned much this summer, but I’ve learned,
when you get real with God, he really answers.

And the Lord turned to him and said,
“Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” (Ju. 6:14)

And the Lord turned to me and said, 
“Kelly, this is my work.
Go in my might and
minister to fearful hearts.
Do I not send you?

Abandoned?
Less than?
Where do you feel more minuscule than mighty?

And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel?
He continued Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Ju. 6:15)

And Kelly said to him, “Me? I am a nobody. I don’t look like her. I don’t talk like her. I don’t have gifts or money or a way. I am the least and hardly even a writer.”

Don't Feel Able

And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” (Ju. 6:16)

Admit to God authentically where you can’t
and he’ll remind you how He can.

There is no method to God’s mightiness.  No recipe to his success. No progress without him. No encouragement apart from him. This God, needs nothing from us, because everything, all power and purpose, is Him.

In one strike, through one woman or man, he can – and will – do what he wants to do. He’ll win. It’s that simple.

Rest easy, friends,
no ability, no skill, no strength, no plan, no power is required – but Him.

This is where beauty is, because…

When all strength comes from God,
all glory tends to go to God.

One man.
One woman.
One step.
His power.
A connective spark of glory is lit.

Don't Feel Able

He doesn’t need our anything,
because he is everything. 

Wherever you feel incapable, know: God is capable. Wherever you feel anxious, know: God already has the end in mind. Wherever you feel less than, know: God is greater than your perceptions of yourself. Wherever you feel unseen, know: God cares for every stray feeling, thought and tear that falls.

You are not left, but loved. Not forgotten, but being forged into his image. Keep at it and keep trusting and His wind until, one day, it pushes you home.

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