by Rhea Beaudry
I am not a fan of putting together jigsaw puzzles. I do not have the patience to sift through all those pieces to find some that fit together. I get frustrated and cranky, and usually give up before I have matched even two together, rather than see it through to completion.
Life can be like a 4,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The one in front of me is an artistic rendition of the map of the world, all in blues and greens and browns. Lovely. But there is a definite disconnect between the depiction on the box cover and the 4,000 piece pile of confusion before me on the work table.
We want our lives to look like that beautiful finished composition, but in reality it resembles the messy pile of random puzzle pieces so much more!
All this disconnection! It brings frustration. Frustration tells me that I should NOT have to deal with all of this! This raging inner anger brings discord, dysfunction, discontent, disability, disillusionment, despair, discombobulation. When you take the D for Disconnect and add it to ANGER, you have DANGER!
Ephesians 4:26 says that anger “gives a foothold to the devil.” The anger and disconnect do not have to own me. I can come into connection! I can “make it” without “losing it.”
The book of Ephesians sets a backdrop for the whole idea of Connection. Without Jesus we cannot be connected to each other in relationships, or to Him. He is our purpose for living. Connection with God through Jesus will overflow into our lives. We will win, and we will have relationships that cannot be broken.
What are our options when dealing with in the disconnection and frustration of our inner thoughts and our outer relationships? Matthew 5:28 clearly indicates that disconnection begins in the heart, and then is carried through into action. You cannot be both happy and frustrated at the same time. It is said that we “cannot keep birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.”
Option number one is to react in the old way—the way of the flesh, the way of one who does not know and trust Christ. We will either explode, or implode.
“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:17-19.
What a hot mess we are without Christ! We are hopeless in our disconnection!
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Romans 7:14-24
Option number two is to react in the new way—the Life in Christ. Turn to the One who is the author of the puzzle and knows exactly how to put it all together. Be renewed—made new, restored to freshness, vigor and perfection— “by the transforming of the mind” (Romans 12:2).
Our passage from Ephesians 4 continues,
“But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:20-24
Throw off the old, put on the new. These are active choices which we can make.
Our passage from Romans 7 continues,
“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:25
It is during the disconnected, temptation-ridden moments of life where there is an intersection between the mind which is unrenewed and the choice to live in Christ that we must be ready to take action. We must be prepared ahead of time for enemy attacks. King David was unprepared and had drifted off course when the temptation arose to sin with Bathsheba. He was lounging around on the rooftop when as king, he should have been out on the battlefield. He let his fleshly desires take precedence. It is in the moment of exposure to the negative bait of Satan that we need to be ready to speak Truth. That Truth can only be assimilated into our spirits by the transformation of our minds. And that can only be done by the Lord.
Jesus sets us free, the moment we invite Him, from our slavery to sin. That moment of frustration and disconnect is the moment to open up to Him. “The Truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). These moments are the puzzle pieces that God puts together, causing “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28) in the lives of those who belong to Him.
As we learn to be fully connected to the Lord, and remain in this blessed place, we will see Him at work time after time in our lives, putting together those pieces of our life’s puzzle that we could never hope to accomplish on our own.
Let’s pray together:
Dearest Lord, we come to You, knowing that You designed the masterpiece of our lives according to how You desired us to be. All we see at times is the tangled, disconnected mess of random puzzle pieces that is impossible for us to work with. We try to put things together, make the pieces fit, and even compromise the corners so that we can try to squeeze it into the mold we think is right. But it doesn’t work! Lord, You are the puzzle maker. We choose to trust You–in Your time, in Your way, under circumstances of Your choosing–to fit the pieces together so that we may be connected. Connected to You first of all, and also to each other, for the glory of Your Name and the work of Your Kingdom. In Jesus name. Amen.