Kerry Weigand, Office Administrator
When was the last time you put together a puzzle? Not the last time you helped a child complete one, but you yourself worked an honest-to-goodness 500 piece puzzle? It’s probably been a while. What makes puzzles so difficult? For starters, they require ample time, intense concentration, and extreme patience. Many pieces look similar, so puzzles can be frustrating. And until completed, we can’t see how individual pieces fit into the overall scheme. So we plod along, placing piece after piece together.
I’ve found that my short-term teaching experience in China was rather like a puzzle.
Difficult pieces were present. The interactions with students that didn’t produce visible, spiritual fruit; periods of waiting for prayers to be answered, uncertainty in such a different culture, etc.
There were big pieces that made life and ministry easier. Times of refreshment with my Chinese and American co-workers; random acts of kindness from strangers; the ability to travel and see my former roommates in Singapore and Taiwan; the ability to connect cross-culturally with students both in and out of the classroom; and the ability to experience a beautiful culture first-hand.
No one piece tells the entire story. China was one piece of my life, a big piece as I lived there for two years, but nevertheless a piece that is now in the past.
Puzzles take patience and time. You can’t just throw together a 500 piece puzzle. While I was teaching in China, I didn’t know how long that “piece” or period was going to last. There were days that seemed like they would never end, but then there were days that I didn’t want to end.
Puzzles follow a plan. The pieces of a landscape wouldn’t fit into the overall design of a portrait puzzle. Isn’t it an awesome thought that God has a specific plan for each of us? Part of God’s specific plan for me was to lead me to China for two years to teach English. He prepared me for that starting early on in my life. My parents had me take piano lessons starting in elementary school. Little did I know then that I would be able to use those skills in our Sunday meetings in China. I had several international friends in high school as well as several international roommates in college: two from Korea, one from Taiwan, and Singapore. God used each of those people to influence me because He knew China was in my future. There is a plan for each of our lives, despite the chaos that we see in the world. And the One in charge of the plan knows how to best arrange the pieces, how to balance good times with challenging times.
So what does this mean?
I have to trust the One who is in control. I don’t have the benefit of seeing the overall complete plan for my life all at once, so I have to believe that whatever comes into my life has been purposefully allowed from a loving, sovereign Father.
I have to realize that there will be challenging times, and each of those challenging times have a purpose. According to Romans 5:3-4, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Endurance, character, and hope are beautiful qualities.
I have to submit to the plan as it unfolds. Different puzzles look different on purpose. The pieces in someone else’s life might not be what God has in mind for me. Remember what Elisabeth Elliot said, “the secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
Can you see God masterfully piecing people, places, and experiences together right now in your life?
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.