Friday, September 24, 2010

The Missing Piece

When my daughter Chelsea was young we enjoyed going to garage sales together. They were like treasure hunts to us; we never knew what unique item or great deal would be unearthed with each stop.

When Chelsea was of preschool age she would scour every sale in search of board puzzles, thoroughly scrutinizing each one to make sure all the pieces were accounted for. She loved putting them together and would spend hours at it. As soon as she finished one, she would flip it over and assemble it again, thrilled each time her picture was complete.

Before long she wanted more of a challenge and she quickly graduated to several-hundred-piece puzzles. As a teenager, she enjoyed displaying her completed masterpieces on her bedroom walls.

But one garage sale gamble of a large, 500 piece puzzle, did not pay off. After several days of laboring over it, just as Chelsea was putting the last few pieces into place, she realized it was one piece short.

“Oh, no. I have to throw it away, Mom,” she lamented. “It’s missing a piece.”

I felt bad for her and quickly suggested that we search for it. We looked all over her room, on the floor, under her bed, and even inside her closet. The search, however, proved futile.

“I wonder if we could make a fake piece to fit in its place?” I offered, knowing when I said it that it wouldn’t work, but wanting desperately to help.
Finally, I begrudgingly assisted Chelsea in throwing it away.

Later that evening I began to ponder the similarities of how each one of us is just like that puzzle; each of us are incomplete, too. God purposely creates in us an emptiness in our lives that can only be filled by a relationship with Jesus. While many of us attempt to fill that void in our life by “making a fake piece” through indulging in outward pleasures, God’s word tells us that we will not have inner peace until we make peace with His Son. When we sincerely ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins and come into our heart to live, He fills the void inside of us, causing our hearts to overflow with love and joy, and especially …peace.

Jesus completes the picture between God’s holiness and man’s sinful state. Jesus is the perfect fit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Always an Example

We are always being watched by someone. Each one of us is an example to others, good or bad. Christians in particular are being watched by the world, especially when we go through tough times. While some people watch us to see how strong our faith is, others are actually looking for a good example to follow when they themselves face challenging situations.
I was blessed to have one of those life changing Christian-based examples when I was just a child of eleven. While attending my grandfather’s funeral I witnessed an inner strength in my grandmother that has stayed with me all of my life. My grandparents had been married for more than 50 years and I knew that Grandma loved the Lord with all her heart. But what really surprised me was the peaceful countenance she displayed throughout the entire funeral process. I had assumed she would be absolutely devastated; after all, fifty years is a very long time to live with someone. But when I witnessed her serene demeanor, I was taken aback.
I did not know Jesus personally during that time. I did know, though, that my grandmother had a relationship with the Lord that was a priority in her life. She made an impression upon me at a young age simply by praying out loud regularly and leaving her Bible lying open when I visited her. I knew she regularly had Bible studies with friends and that she attended church whenever the doors were open. Grama was a sweet, peaceful person who would readily throw her head back in laughter when she was tickled by something.
Even though I didn’t completely understand my Grandmother’s faith, I was definitely drawn to it, and never more so than at my grandfather’s funeral. When I finally saw my Grandma’s face in that sea of mourners, and then witnessed her inner peace throughout the funeral process, it drew me to her Jesus, even as a child.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).
God has used that memory of “faith amidst the storm” countless times in my life. It is one of those “pillar of strength” reminders of the peace that can only come from a relationship with Jesus; a peace that passes understanding. Most gratefully, that same peace is now helping me to endure my own struggles in life.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t cry or grieve over the loss of a loved one; even Jesus openly wept. But God wants us to “not be as one without hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). That is, in our sorrow we still believe that God is sovereign. We are to live our faith, even through the tough times, with the hope of tomorrow.
While weeping may remain for a night, rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30: 5). We can rejoice in the promises that God give us, so that after we are gone, our memory, too, will be a pillar of strength to others, pointing them to our heavenly Father.
The peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7 NLV).
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