“Maybe if you loop it around the end and try to pull it through…”
“Nope, won’t work.”
“Turn it upside down. Sometimes looking from a different angle…”
“Man this thing is giving me a headache.”
“I’m not going to be able to sleep until I get this **** thing figured out!”
And so my brother and sister-in-law, my husband and I continued to stare helplessly with glossed over eyes at the wood and string contraption my brother was holding. Great birthday present. The four of us had been fixated on this puzzle for the last few days trying desperately to figure it out. For most of the time it sat casually on top of the fireplace mantle until one of us would walk by only to be sucked in to giving another go at it. One of the suggestions was a hammer or saw.
Romans 12:2 CEB
Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
“So that you can figure out what God’s will is…” Figuring out God’s will? Isn’t God’s will suppose to be something you just know? Or a revelation you have amidst sunburst clouds, singing birds and that ‘Ah-hah!’ moment? Rarely. I wish I could say knowing God’s will has been the easy breezy experience of “Oh yes, that’s it! Of course!”
I can definitely relate to the “figuring out” dynamic. Figuring out something requires great effort on our part, mental effort, pondering, TRYING something. When you're figuring something out, your mind is a great part of that process, which is why God tells us we need minds that have been made new, transformed, so our mental faculties aren't functioning from a "this world only" perspective and pattern.
If we were going to solve the wood and string puzzle we had to switch into a different way of thinking than what we would typically use in day-to-day problem solving. We had to adjust our perspective to see differently, even to the point of holding the puzzle upside down for half an hour to force our brains to think out of the box. We had to do a lot of hands-on maneuvering of the pieces – trying one way and then the other, flipping the string around one way, sliding a piece back and forth. We’d think we were making progress only to tie the crazy thing up into an even greater mess.
“Figure out what God’s will is…” – We can sit back, pray, beg, write out our prayer requests, write out our 1 year, 5 year, 10 year goals, take off on a cross-country or across-the-world-got-to-find-myself journey, hoping to discover God’s will. The reality: you just plain need to apply some effort and figure it out. Start by asking God to show you what thinking patterns and belief systems need renewing or flat-out overhauling. Its not that God holds out on revealing His will to us but our beliefs and thinking patterns get in the way. They cloud up the atmosphere of our life, they distort our perspective and prevent us from hearing and seeing from Heaven’s perspective.
Then get active in the “figuring out” – just start doing something. Don’t try to figure it out first – how it can or will happen, how you'll raise the money, find the time, find the energy, work it into your current scheduled life or season of life. When Jesus called His disciples, He just said “Follow Me!” He didn’t lay out a plan for them, give them the details, lay out a schedule for them, or tell them how much money they’d make. Heck, He didn’t even introduce Himself, and gauging by later accounts of the disciples’ amazement, I wonder if they even really knew WHO they were following! (See Luke 8:22-25)
Following Jesus…faith…God’s will – it’s messy, unpredictable, and in a lot of ways, you sometimes need to be willing to turn your life upside down in order to “figure it out”.
But you CAN figure it out because God is a good God, a faithful Father Who longs to see His kids flourish in life. He’s had you figured out before you drew your first breath and He’ll stick with you until you “get it”.
(And yes, we did solve the puzzle…without the hammer or saw.)