When our plane landed in Minneapolis last Wednesday morning, I could only think of one thing: Where’s the nearest bathroom? My two cups of coffee that morning, combined with the anxiety of what I was about to undertake (being the main speaker at a retreat that included adults – yikes!) had me scanning the terminal for restroom signs as soon as I walked off the plane.
After finding one, I hooked a right and rushed in, only to be brought to a standstill by the sight of this:
Mosaics are fascinating works of art. Small pieces of colored tile or glass perfectly placed in patterns that, when you step back, blend visually into a larger picture. From far away, you would barely know the individual pieces exist, but the closer you get, the more you see how their unique shades and shapes work together to form the picture.
Our obedience to God is beautiful to Him. Though we’ll never get it all right, every day He presents us with hundreds of opportunities to follow His lead and choose His ways over our own! Every time I obey, I’m placing another piece in the mosaic of what God is doing in and through my life.
Some pieces are easy and obvious – I know clearly what God has asked me to do and there is little to no stress involved in my choice to obey. These pieces are often routines in my life or things that my personality naturally bends toward anyway.
Some pieces are just awkward and odd. At almost 40 years old, I know myself well and yet I daily sense nudges to do things I would normally put on my “weaknesses” list. It’s tempting to ignore the Spirit’s leading and discard a piece that doesn’t seem like a good fit, but I always find out He has a perfect spot for it I couldn’t see.
Some pieces are sharp and scary. In these instances, it’s not that obeying is going to cause some discomfort, it’s that it’s probably going to hurt. My first reaction is “No way!” because I don’t think I need them. Jesus can be pretty persistent, though, so swallowing my pride and just placing the piece is usually the best option!
The third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes opens with this truth: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (3:1) This well-known verse is followed by a list of potential “matters” we face as we do life on this planet. Our days are filled with choices and the writer, King Solomon, acknowledges the variety and polarity of the work God has asked us to do – it’s complicated!
However, he sums it up by saying that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.” (3:11) Our close-up view looks like a mishmash of mismatched bits, but since He stands outside of time, He sees the completed work. Some of those obedience pieces we hold in our hands may seem meaningless, unfitting, or unwanted, but He’s got a perfect spot for every one.
As he sums up the book, Solomon writes: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (12:13) With God as the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful designer of our mosaics, what else do we have but to obey? It can seem so hard in the moment, but just a glimpse of His perspective should be motivating enough!
Last year, Anna and I worked together to make a plaster garden mosaic. I was pretty excited that she got this as a gift and also pretty excited she was going to need my help with it – I’d always wanted to do one of these!
The instructions suggested laying out our pattern on the table before setting the pieces into the wet plaster. This seemed silly since, in my mind, the pieces were going to easily shape and fit themselves together like the picture I had in my head. It’s a good thing I obeyed, though, since it ended up being a lot harder than it looked!
I’m so glad I’m not designing what God is doing in and through my life. As the ultimate Designer, God sees the completed larger picture and has hand-crafted every piece that makes it what it is. I’m not in control, but every day I have the privilege of holding the pieces He’s given me and every time I obey, I put one of those pieces in its perfect place. My obedience cannot and will not earn me salvation or any ‘extra’ love from God, but it sure is beautiful to Him!