God made my life complete
When I placed all the pieces before him…
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Psalm 18:20-24 (The Message)
God made my life complete…when I placed all the pieces before God…God rewrote the text of my life…when I opened the book of my heart to God’s eyes.
How many times do we withhold pieces of our lives from God, or refuse (consciously or not) to open our hearts to God?
Speaking for myself, more often than I care to admit, and probably more often than I realize. When I find myself in a predicament, or a “puzzling” situation (pun intended 😊), I usually bring it to God – eventually. When I do, I often realize that I’ve been holding back. I rationalize that to myself in various ways. Two of my favorite rationalizations are “this is not worth bothering God about;” and “I should be able to handle this on my own.” This isn’t worth bothering God about and I should be able to handle this on my own – sounds like a recipe for trouble, doesn’t it?
Sometimes, more often than I’d like, I find that something in me has been actively holding back from bringing this piece to God. Something in me does not want to open myself so God can rewrite my text, as this Psalm directs. In some ways, perhaps some part of me doesn’t want God to rewrite my text. When (by the grace of God) I realize that that is what is happening, I try to explore what’s up with that resistance. I find Thomas Keating’s question useful: is something in this situation threatening my sense of or need for security, esteem, or control? Almost always, the answer is yes – sometimes to all three at once.
In his book, “Everything Must Change,” Brian McLaren uses the metaphor of a puzzle that is in a box with the wrong picture on top. So when you try to put the puzzle together, you struggle and struggle to match the photo on the top of the box, but some pieces just don’t seem to fit. You need to get the right photo before you can see how the pieces all fit together. What if that is true in our lives as well? What if some of the pieces that don’t seem to fit really do fit, if only we could see the whole image of the puzzle, as God can?
And then think about the reverse: what if some of the pieces in the box really don’t fit this puzzle? What if they got mixed in from another puzzle? What if you are holding onto pieces from the past, from a picture of how you thought your life would be, or pieces that someone else (e.g., your parents or society) foisted on you? You could try and try to make them fit, but your effort would be in vain, because they don’t fit in YOUR puzzle.
Sometimes we may need to give up the box top image of our lives that we’ve been fighting to keep and sometimes we need to give up individual pieces that don’t belong in our puzzle. And sometimes, some pieces are missing and we literally cannot complete the whole puzzle right now, but we can make progress using the pieces we have.
How do we tell which situation we are in? By turning over all the pieces to God, by opening up the books of our lives to God’s grace.
Some Questions to Contemplate
Before you begin, remember to “take God with you when you go within,” as Joyce Rupp so sagely advises. Be gentle with yourself. Remember God’s great love for you and suspend your self-judgment as best you are able. Remember Love 360. Ask God to guide you as you contemplate these questions. You may find that an answer comes quickly, and you may not. Just be willing to sit with the questions, and trust that God will answer in God’s own time.
- Are you holding any pieces of your life back from God? Because they seem too ugly, not important enough, or not spiritual enough, or because you are afraid you will have to change?
- If you find a piece that you have not turned over to God, are you willing to turn it over now? If you’re not, just acknowledge that. Be honest with yourself (God already knows…) Listening for God’s guidance, look with curiosity to see what is in the way of turning that piece over, and see if you are willing to turn over even some of what is in the way. You may find it helpful to consider whether the issue at hand is triggering fears of loss of security, esteem, or control.
- Are there pieces of your life that feel like they just don’t fit right now? Sit with them, and ask God to show you whether you just don’t see how they fit yet, or whether they really don’t fit, and you need to set them aside.
- Are there pieces that are missing, or that feel like they are missing? Ask God to show you where those pieces are, and to fill in the blanks.
- Are you carrying around a box-top image of your life that isn’t really yours? An image of yourself and your life that reflects other people’s values or societal “norms,” rather than the unique person God created you to be? If so, ask God to help you let go of that image so that you can see God’s image for your life more clearly.
- Pray over your calendar. Ask God to show you which pieces are most important to fit into THIS day.