For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:9-13
As a child, we are often excused for some of our behaviors because we are still growing and learning. We may have been disciplined within the lesson learned, but grace and mercy were a huge part of the process.
Why is it the older we become the less forgiving we are of others and ourselves? Is it the accumulation of wrongs? Does our child-like naivety turn apathetic, or worse into self-loathing or judgment?
I Corinthians is reminding us of the responsibility to grow in Christ, but it’s also reminding us that, until we see Jesus face-to-face, we only know in part. There will come a day when it all fits together in perfection.
My family completed a puzzle on vacation. We started the puzzle, and throughout the week, folks would stop at the table and work on adding a few more pieces. Looking at the details of the edges while visualizing the big picture we were creating became mentally taxing. Like most puzzle experts, we referred to the picture on the box for perspective and figuring out where colors and shapes might go.
So, all the blue colors go at the top for the sky. Green….the grass. Maybe we should do all the edges first?
Working together as a team became a lively pursuit. You could look across the table to see someone working on the blue and white sky and share a piece you found in your green grass. Siblings became competitive. Amazingly, a three-year old could find a missing piece with ease.
Every puzzle piece of our lives, the lives before us, and after us have been created by Jesus for us to, over time, fit together. It takes a life time and thousands of generations to bring about the final outcome. If Jesus were to show you the box cover of His plan, we would stand amazed–the magnitude of the details would blow our minds. That is where faith comes in. God reveals Himself in His Word and speaks to us through the leading of the Holy Spirit, but only in part.
We worked so hard on a puzzle only to find a piece missing. We questioned each other, thinking someone was being mischievous, or did the owners of the beach house play a trick on us?
Doesn’t your eye focus on that missing piece? It drove us crazy. Missing pieces. This side of heaven has missing pieces and imperfections.
Can you be okay with that? Or, will you focus solely on the missing, and be consumed with unfulfilled longings, and an insatiable appetite for perfection in yourself and others?
Recently I have been in situations and circumstances in which broken pieces were scattered everywhere. Do I pick those up and glue them back together, Lord? Do I sweep them up and throw them in the trash and start over? Do I take the pieces and create something different? All good questions for self-reflection and change. The best apology is changed behavior.
So, how do we live? What do we do with brokenness in ourselves and others?
The greatest of all is love. Jesus said so. “For the Bible told me so”. Acts of kindness are an expression of love, but this love says, “I’m okay with me where I am in the moment, and I will love you where you are with my hurt or frustration.”
I had in my mind as I wrote the word “love”, how does one explain this type of love? My visual was the love of a parent with a teenager who is no longer wanting your advice but you love anyway. You may be worried or frustrated but you never stop loving. It’s the love that Jesus expressed to those who crucified Him and shamed Him. It’s the love when we choose to change, or love someone through their change process.
God is calling me to love even when I hurt, or don’t understand the missing pieces. “Love”, He says. Don’t try to understand, fix, reason, justify, prove, or seek revenge.
When we leave the pieces to God and love who He created…
…then we can walk in a love so divine it sets us free, brings peace, and unexplained joy.
I can partially know, and trust that the box cover of eternity is something beyond my comprehension and so Holy that I could not fathom it all at once if He was to show me.
Please, don’t. I trust you Lord.
For months, perhaps years, since this little girl came into the world, I’ve been caught off guard by Jesus and His love, and I am compelled to share it and bring Hope.
I love you…
I love me…
Jesus, thank you for loving us. Thank you that because you first loved us, we have the capacity to love beyond what we think we are currently capable of.