Puzzle pieces

Have you ever had a day where it feels as though the situations you walk into were laid out for you, planned ahead, that all that was left waiting to happen was your arrival? Yesterday was a day like that in my life. I could almost hear the puzzle pieces locking together as the events of the day unfolded. It feels surreal, almost as if what I do matters little, because it was all going to happen that way anyway.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

It's an age-old question, this question that's rattling around my brain: if God is just waiting for me to act, and He knows how I am going to act long before I ever do, what is free will? I didn't grasp this concept until I became a mother of toddlers. Predictable little beings they are! Long before they hit their sister, or take a toy from someone, or tear the page from my new book, I see the signs. I go on the mother version of "high alert", ears perked up, eyes watchful. Just as God sometimes allows us to experience the consequences of our actions, I sometimes let the situation go...not so I can reign down punishment sadistically on the disobedient child. Rather that they might learn from a small mistake in the safety of our own home, saving them from big pain in the future, when the mistakes are bigger and the consequences more grave! Even with my tiny human brain, I can predict which misbehavior is coming about 9 times out of 10. But that doesn't change the fact that it is the child who acts. So it is with God and predestination, and my free will. He knows what will happen, but that doesn't change the fact that it is I who must step forward and act to carry out His will, to be faithful to be the final puzzle piece clicking into place after a whole cascade of other events have prepared the situation for me.

A conversation with a woman at church, someone I met at La Leche League. A repair on our van that didn't go as planned, necessitating the purchase of a new vehicle we really can't afford right now. A cuddle with Katy that turned to Down syndrome, and cancer, and death, and grief. The book that I am reading (Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp) prepares my heart for a new phase of conflict between the two middle girls and shows me new ways to guide them through it. God has a whole jigsaw puzzle laid out for me, and yesterday was a day when the last piece was clicked in many small corners. Bits of the picture became clear. A day of rejoicing and putting hands to plow. That when I return home, I might hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. (I Corinthians 9:24-26)

I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I've closed the door.
I will walk apart, I'll run the race
And I will never be the same again.

Fall like fire, soak like rain,
Flow like mighty waters, again and again.
Sweep away the darkness, burn away the chaff,
And let a flame burn to glorify Your name.

There are higher heights, there are deeper seas,
Whatever you need to do, Lord do in me.
The Glory of God fills my life,
And I will never be the same again.
~ I Will Never Be the Same Again, Hillsong