past homepages

"Who Messed With the Puzzle Picture"

Over the past month I've heard from many I've lost contact with over the past year. It has been wonderful reconnecting with many of you and getting an update on what God is doing in your lives. I look forward to seeing some of you in person shortly. Your words of encouragement have been so meaningful to me and my family.

If I had to describe my life in one word at this stage, it would be "re-focus." When you lose someone close to you such as a parent, your life immediately becomes one, big blur. Your purpose and identity, your joys and passions, your memories and dreams, and things that used to excite you all seem to dwindle away, similar to a fire quickly being extinguished. Finding clarity through the clouds of confusion, plus a sundry of questions, makes this process a very long journey.

When I lived in Jacksonville, FL, I recall a time my mother came to visit me. Because she had chronic pain for many years, I suggested that we go to the Mayo Clinic which was only five minutes from my home. As I sat in the waiting room and read some medical literature on visual difficulties, I came across a word that caught my attention - myopia. It's a condition in which the visual images come to a focus in front of the retina, resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects. In other words the individual can see things up close but has a difficult time seeing things far away (a.k.a. nearsightedness).

As I sat there and thought about that word, I considered its applicability to our lives. There are times when we can see how the events of our lives fit so well together, just as a lego snaps perfectly into another. However, when something comes along that doesn't seem to fit, we have a difficult time trying to see how it lines up with everything else. It just doesn't seem to make sense. And there are some puzzle pieces which don't appear to belong in our lives at all. "That piece belongs to someone else," we say under our breathe. As a result, our view of the so called God-designed portrait seems askew. That's how I feel at times about my father's death.

Just when the portrait was beginning to become clearer, someone came along and messed the entire puzzle board. And now we try to pick those pieces up, picking one up at a time, turning over each piece, observing it, and seeing where, if at all, it fits. Some of the corners are creased, some of the curves are cracked, and a few are outright broken.

Even after one year, I find myself still picking up many pieces. Sometimes, out of sheer confusion, I'm left with only one choice - raising that piece up to the Lord and saying, "you gave me this piece, but it doesn't seem to fit anymore." Other times, I sense that God has given me some things just for a season and, therefore, I must now gently lay it in the hands of Christ, even though there are times I want that piece to still be a part of my life.

Seeing the big picture isn't an easy task. If anything, I'm learning that our travels on this earth are very much a "hidden journey." God doesn't shine the light into our future as far as we like. But just like when we travel on a highway late into the evening, even though our headlights can only project so far ahead of our vehicle, we trust that what's ahead is safe to continue travelling. And as we continue on our trip, what was unknown will become clearer. We must, however, continue to move forward.

If this hidden journey is God's way of deepening our character and our lives, then I trust he will do what is best for us. I still have many unanswered questions, but I can honestly say, that as displeasing as this process can be at times, I am finding joy in the journey.

Your friend,