I think one of the greatest gifts to mankind from Almighty God is the idea of helping others. We help people day-in and day-out who are struggling with various things. From addictions to simple problems to family situations…you name it, when one has been in ministry for over 34 years, I’ve seen a lot. But the joy of this ministry that has been entrusted to me is that I get to help so many people fit the pieces together. What pieces? Well…to put it bluntly…the pieces of their lives. As Paul David Tripp says, God uses people in need of change to help those in need of change. In other words, we’re all in the same boat! We all have pieces in our lives that are out of place.
Man (generic, meaning men and women) tends to categorize their lives. He has his work life, his home life, his church life, his social life, his sports life, etc. Everything is nice and neat in his mind. Until something happens, oh, say, around his mid-20s or so. Then he comes to realize that there is a lot of growing up that he needs to do. He’s on his own. He’s no longer living off of his mother and father or one or the other. Rather, he has to pay his own bills, make sure that he is able to keep food on his table and a shelter over his head. Then if he’s not able to cope with this, it’s all the relationships that he has to sort out. There are the relationships that he has at work, at home, at church, in social gatherings, in his sports, etc.
And this is where everything begins to get jumbled up. It’s difficult for man to keep up with all these relationships at times. Life happens at different stages and people with whom we have contact are at all different stages of life. Some have grown past the pains that the youngers feel and the olders don’t understand how the youngers are feeling nor do they care to know. But that’s alright, because most of the time the youngers are so self-absorbed that they really don’t care what the olders are thinking or feeling. Then those who are in the middle are just confused about everything in between. Stages: we all go through them.
First, there is the child stage. You’re born on a blustery Saturday morning in the middle of winter. Your parents are so proud that they have you as their little child. Then something happens. You parents have another child and your whole world takes a shift. No longer are you the most important thing in their lives. You soon come to realize that even acting like your newest sibling doesn’t seem to help matters; it only worsens the situation. Then when your parents get you a puppy, things seem to be happy once again, but you now have some responsibility to take care of the puppy: cleaning up after it, feeding it, watering it, bathing it, etc. That part is not all that fun so you eventually just sleep with the puppy while your dad and mom care for you, your sibling, and now your dog. This is childhood.
Next comes your teenage years. You know everything that there is to know. You can answer any question that your parents ask even though you really don’t know what you’re talking about. As long as you believe something to be true, it must be true. Or, if you read it on Google or Wikipedia, there’s no way in heaven, earth or hell that you’re wrong because everything on the internet is infallible and true. But reality begins to set in when your parents correct you every time your lips move. It’s not because you’re an idiot (although there may be some out there), but it’s because they don’t want you to look or come across as being an idiot. That doesn’t matter to you so much as long as you have your Samsung Galaxy S45-GLX telephone or your Apple XLI iPhone or whatever the latest gadget is. As long as you’re wearing those Nike shoes and you look like everyone else (even though you say you want to be different), you just know you’re still right no matter what your stupid parents say.
Adulthood sneaks up on you. Do you remember when your parents started asking you in high school–I think it was your freshman year–what you wanted to do for a living? You didn’t know then and now that you’ve graduated you still don’t know. You still think your parents are stupid. So you decide to go to the big university that is going to cost your parents their arms and legs. Again, this doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy and you have the latest fashions, phones, and froufrou. You begin to take your basics so you can procrastinate on making a decision of what you want to do when you grow up. Then you pick a major: art or philosophy or business administration or whatever you think you want to do at the time. You end up with your undergraduate degree then something strange happens: you can’t find a job based on your degree because the market has no openings nor does it desire to hire someone with your degree. Instead, you end up being a barista at Starbucks until you can actually find a management position in whatever you think you’re capable of doing. Mommy and daddy are now telling you that you’re on your own, that they’ve done their part. You struggle from paycheck to paycheck, trying to make ends meet thinking that if only you were married it would all be better. Then after marriage you come to realize that your parents were not all that stupid but that you were for not listening when you should’ve and now you’re paying for it with your own mess of a family. And now the cycle begins all again.
That’s where I come in. You decide that maybe you should go back to the church where you grew up. You decide that maybe you need to speak with the clergy because after all, they know all the answers to life’s toughest questions, right? Wrong! We don’t know everything, but we do know that the pieces of our lives will never be straightened out until we do a few things right.
First, you have to believe that God has a plan for you. That’s right! He has a plan for you. Have you ever asked Him what His plan is? Psalm 139:13-16 says: For you formed my inward parts: You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. You see, God knew you before you were ever born and He has written the days that were ordained for you. He has a special plan and it’s time for you to start seeking His plan for your life through the reading of His Word, the Bible, and by trusting that He will lead you.
Second, you have to believe that God has made a way for you. That’s right! He not only has a plan for you, but He has made a way for you. The first thing that we learn about this way is found in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. We learn from this one verse about the love that God has for each one of us. It is an everlasting love because the One that He gave, His only begotten Son, was with God in the beginning (John 1:1). His Son, Jesus Christ, said this in John 14:6: I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, satisfaction guaranteed! Jesus Christ is the way that God has given to us for living this thing we call life. Jesus Christ is the truth that we need to look unto to find and to know the way that God has made for us. Jesus Christ is the life that we now live when we find Him to be God’s way for living.
Finally, you have to believe that God has given you His Word. That’s right! He has given us His Word, the Bible. He is faithful in all that He has revealed of Himself to us in His Word. What He says is what He means. What He means is for us to know Him. And the more we get to know Him through His Word and by His Holy Spirit revealing His Word to us, the more we cannot help but love Him! And what is His Word like? Hebrews 4:12 says: For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. You see, His Word is alive and active. It moves us, it transforms us, it changes us into people who love Him and serve Him with all our being. His word is sharper than any two-edged sword which means that it pierces deep into our soul. It cuts going in and it cuts coming out. Let me put it another way: it does surgery on our hearts and minds. Finally, His Word is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. This means that it exposes us. It helps us to discover who we are and who He is and how much He loves us enough that He’s willing to change us to fit His plan for our lives.
When you do these things, then things will begin to be straightened out. It will be hard. The enemy is constantly going to try to keep you down. It’s tough when your family turns against you for your beliefs. At times you’ll want to give up. But believe me when I write this: God has a plan to fit all the pieces of your life together! He planned your life from eternity and you are now fulfilling it in one way or another. You may not understand it right now, but God knows you by name, He cares for you, and He’s willing to see you through His plan from beginning to end.