Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Extra Piece

Standing away from the table, anyone would notice the puzzle was finally done. Looking at its finished form, anyone could see the landscape was complete. Off to the side, sitting all alone, the piece without a place — A piece without a home.

The puzzle did not need it, nor could it fit the piece in, because if the piece did find a place to fit, the completion would be undone.

The extra piece could not do anything to change its state, and others could not help. Where could it find a puzzle with Whom it had a place? No puzzles near or far away could find a place for it. There was no place for that piece to fit!

As this situation continued, the piece began to feel worthless. It felt that all was lost. And having nothing left to do, it sought the Puzzle Maker to offer His counsel.

"Oh, GREAT PUZZLE MAKER, please tell me what to do? There is no place for me to fit, no space that I can fill."

The extra piece was the only piece to hear the Puzzle Maker's answer because it was unique and belonged only to him.


         Being set apart to do something for the Lord is not always an easy task. Even though you are given the gifts necessary to accomplish the task, at times you may not understand fully what is going to happen. In the early years of my ministry I really thought I had it all together. Everything should have fallen into place. After all I was raised in the church, attended the “right” college and understood what I wanted out of life. I even followed the advice of older, wiser ministers and had a “fallback position” just incase ministry didn’t pay the bills. To my surprise, things did not go as planned. The Lord most often needs to bring us to a point of trusting Him completely before His plan is brought about in our lives. At least that is what has happened with me thus far. And, I believe that it is what happened in Joseph's life. (Genesis 37:5-9)

         Joseph had dreams, and he was sure he understood them. We should all be able to relate dreams and visions of what life will hold for us. But, I don't think we are ever made aware of all that transpires on the way to what God had planned. We like Joseph have no idea what is around the next bend. (Genesis 37:23 -27)

         These same types of injustice still happen to those who attempt to listen to the Lord. People laugh at you! They seem to do everything in their power to stop you from doing what you know is right, and at times they will try to get you to give up your vision to join them in accomplishing what God has called them to do. Isn't that in some way selling us into bondage? How often have we as Christians heard the goals of another and not really listened to them? Or, how many times have we attempted to share our dreams and visions with others only to have them misunderstand and mistreat us for believing God would consider working through us?

         We all know the outcome of the story of Joseph. Everything the Lord promised came to pass in his life. But, before that final outcome, he was accused of doing wrong, thrown into prison, and was kept there for about three years. In every situation, he did his best to be a blessing to those he came in contact with and he never doubted that the Lord understood everything. From what we are given in Scripture Joseph never suffered discouragement. I wish the same were true of me. The truth is when we are doing the wrong thing even though it is for the right reason, it feels as if we are in a prison. There are lesions we learn in those places that we cannot learn anywhere else, but that does not make the journey any more comfortable.

         I can't speak for you, but I must say, for myself, I need more of the assurance Joseph had. If that is true for you also, don't give up. God is still on the throne. Everything will work out according to His will, and He lovingly leads all who will follow Him into a life of righteousness. No one can understand all that we go through in life, and for several of our life events there seems to be no good reason or adequate explanation. Some things happen in our lives just to demonstrate how lost we are without God. We just need to distinguish between what should be forgotten, and what should be memorialized. (Isaiah 46:9-11)

         If you feel like an extra piece to God's puzzle, understand this: You are not alone. Simply ask Him for something you can do now. Begin taking steps of faith and rely completely upon Him for the outcome. Ministry is meeting individual needs in situations that refresh you, but they are most often not glamorous jobs. God will bring you out in His time. For help in finding where you fit into the ministry of your local church see your Pastor, Associate Pastor, Youth Director, or Christian Education Director. Talk to them about your calling and the gifts that God has given you. There is a place for everyone in the ministry of the church. Any good shepherd will understand his flock and allow them the freedom to experience the joy of ministry. Any good sheep will follow the direction of the shepherd and both will accomplish great things in God's service.

         The important elements in any ministry are trust, security, and open communication. All of those are mutually dependent activities. We must first trust to be trusted, offer security to be secure, and communicate freely to be communicated with freely. Whatever you do, and whomever you seek advice from, do not leave God out of the process of finding your place in His body! At times, He is the only One Who really understands and can direct you to your proper place. God will honor any commitment you make to serve Him, so don't let your past get in your way. None of us are as faithful to doing the Lord's will as we should be. I'm not sure this will be understood: But, don't be afraid to make mistakes as you walk by faith; God will stop you before you blow it completely. God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping those He calls. Recently I have been considering Matthew chapter 22. Jesus teaching by a parable compares the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast. In verse fourteen we find the very curious statement, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

         Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between “being called” and “being chosen?” Writing this, I am reminded of an evening service from my youth. The Pastor stood at the pulpit expounding on a “new revelation” he had received. Once he got to his point, I thought: “That isn't new. It is expressly stated in the text.” So, I can only hope this is not my moment of “new revelation” that is in actuality an “old truth”, but here is my answer to the previous question. The difference between “being called” and “being chosen” is in the timing. Correctly responding to “the call” with a sense of “Divine Timing” transforms you from “being called” and empowers you to act with the assurance of “being chosen!” Now is the right time for me to step out. Is God also speaking to you? We are not extra pieces. God has a place for each of us. If we will answer the call, we will see God working in amazing ways to meet needs.

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