About the author: Jim and his wife Susie have been involved at ZPC for more than 16 years. They have a son, Jack, a sophomore at Carmel High School and a daughter, Jessica, a 7th grader at Creekside Middle School. Jim is a former Elder and is active with VBS, the KY mission trip and Great Banquet.
About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
Mystery | Philippians 1:3-14
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters,having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
A few weeks ago, I received a single puzzle piece at the conclusion of the church service. It reminded me of a conversation I led during a children's sermon a number of years ago.
"How do you typically start building a jigsaw puzzle?" I asked.
After some prompting, the general consensus was "with the edge pieces." Why?
"Because we know what they look like. They have flat edges," came the reply.
Puzzles often get much harder from there, and so we open the box for the instructions...wait, there aren't any. Only more puzzle pieces. The closest thing to instructions for a jigsaw puzzle is the box top itself or rather, the picture of the FINAL PRODUCT. The box top is really helpful, some would say crucial, to finishing a puzzle.
The box top gives us something we desperately need. Context. Having a single puzzle piece doesn't give you the big picture of what you're attempting to complete.
The problem is, in life, we don't have a box top, so we don't have the big picture. We don't know what the final product is supposed to look like.
And sometimes, we feel like that single puzzle piece with little context. It's a mystery to understand how our pieces fit with one another.
Only God has an eternal view of how the pieces are meant to fit together.
When Paul was writing his numerous letters to various churches from his jail cell, there must have been moments where he wondered "how does this piece fit into my puzzle?" But rather than be overwhelmed by the mystery of what would happen next (or if/how his pieces would fit neatly together), he instead continued to write with thanksgiving in his heart. His love letter to the Philippians reflects his joy of the Christian life and his confidence of God's love and work that was occurring in their lives.
So, during this season of waiting, don't let the mystery of "how/where your puzzle piece fits" distract you from the knowledge that God's plan is at work, and you're part of it. One day, we'll all see the box top...but for now, be content in knowing that in his plan, you've been uniquely designed to be the perfect fit.
Grab a jigsaw puzzle with the family and without looking at the box top, construct the outer edge. In some ways, it should be simple but it might prove to be difficult. Talk about the value of the box top!
Thank you for having a plan for our lives. Give us patience and peace as your plan is revealed to us. Let us not forget that you've crafted us in a wonderful and deliberate way to affect the lives of others for the benefit of your kingdom.
In Jesus name,