If there was ever anything that I struggle with mightily it’s assembling contraptions according to directions. For some reason there is a disconnect between my brain and my hands and whatever it is that needs to be put together. I can actually see white space in my mind and I just blank. I cannot put the pieces together into a whole in my head or with my hands. I cannot form the conceptual into the actual. Today as I was grappling with assembly and fumbling with bolts and forcing pieces to fit I began thinking about how our lives are assembled, too.
We may not have a blueprint that details our days. We can’t see how our seconds and minutes and hours are etched into the future. It’s as if we watch a baseball game and we can only see the third base bag. We see through the glass darkly; we simply aren’t capable of having all of the answers. We are limited. Finite. And perhaps– when and if we ever learn to trust God completely, there is freedom in the finite. Freedom in accepting our limits because we cannot know it all. Security in our smallness because He is bigger. He orders the details. You can let it go because He numbers the strands of hairs on my head as well as the stars in the sky. With God we can laugh in the face of the future without fear. I might not see exactly what He is assembling or how the pieces fit together but I can trust He is working for my good, even if and when life is far, far from a fairy tale. And even in the place of pain or fear I can trust He is working, working. Working for our good, even if it doesn’t look like good from where I am sitting.
For example, this: Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were taken prisoner in World War II. Faced with depravity beyond belief– forced to live in deplorable conditions, they vowed to share God with fellow prisoners despite looming death. She writes in The Hiding Place: “‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ [Betsie] said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’ That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.’But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?’ Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!’ My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”
If God can use the fleas for our good then surely He can use our bad for the good, too. Quietly He works in our pain. He holds our hand as He assembles our lives. He transforms our fearfulness into thankfulness. He flips our good plans, our logical plans, right upside down for what is best. Still He works, even when we don’t know when or if it is getting better. Still He works when the blueprint doesn’t seem to make sense. Still He works, when it seems we are jamming the pieces together. Still He works when we are fumbling with the nails and the bolts. Still He works in the frustration and the mistakes and the do-overs. Still He works–outlining our stories, highlighting beauty in our pain– so we can be still and know.