God Will Meet Us in the Muchness

If you prefer audio, this article is also available as a podcast episode.

The hunter-green box sat tucked among books in the antique store, a mystery hiding in plain sight. One word on the spine caught my eye: puzzle.

As an author and a voracious reader, I’m naturally drawn to the book section of any store, my neck bent as I peruse the selection. But I’m also a puzzle person. Every Christmas, Mom and I try to beat our personal record of puzzles completed. Movies play in the background while we sort, organize, and put the pictures together. We have it down to a science at this point, starting and finishing fourteen 500-1,000 piece puzzles over the last holiday break.

It’s no wonder the green box called my name. Designed to look like a hardback book sitting on a shelf, the “front page” opened to reveal puzzle pieces. Immediately, I was intrigued. But when I read the back of the box, like its own book description, I was sold.

green envelope clue

See, this puzzle included 500 pieces and an envelope with a clue . . . but no picture of what would be the finished design.

Challenge accepted, I said to myself before walking toward the cash register.

Let’s see how this goes, I thought as I later dumped the pieces onto my kitchen table.

There were a few moments of frustration, a couple of exasperated “What in the world is going on here?” questions, and eventually “Oh! I see!” exclamations. Two hours later, I stood back and admired the completed scene.

What didn’t make sense at the moment was crystal clear at the end.

I’m writing this just days after Easter, and it’s easy to see the metaphor hiding in plain sight. Still, the memory of the mystery puzzle startled me with its timing. Holy Week, the days stretching from Palm Sunday to Easter, hold the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. In my personal life, this week holds tender and difficult memories. This time last year, I began a post titled For When You’re (Still) Waiting on a Miracle with these words: Easter has passed and I’m still waiting for resurrection.

I’m still waiting, still watching, still hoping.

I’m still learning to rejoice in the ruins and sing in the shadows.

“Where is Jesus in these days?” I wondered again this year. Where is Jesus in the A Lot and the Too Much, the hosanna and the how can it be, the deep betrayal and the bewildering silence and the sustaining joy? Goodness is always here because Emmanuel, God With Us, promises to never leave, and so I decided to look closely, trusting God would be faithful to meet me in the “muchness” of this week.

It wasn’t until I began sitting in the beautifully specific details of Holy Week and writing out what became an email series titled “Here, in the week of it all” that I realized in some small way I was gathering puzzle pieces, examining each one while anticipating the final picture.

Every day, I opened the Gospels and read the account of what happened that particular day, each one like a chapter in a larger story, a puzzle piece that doesn’t make much sense on its own and yet fits perfectly in the completed picture. I wrote a week of devotions, tying in what I learned from my trips to Israel with Scripture and songs to sit with in our weeping and hoping, our waiting and wondering . . . and then the mystery puzzle came to mind, the final picture and daily devotion taking me by surprise.

In many ways, we know how the story ends. God goes back to a garden, Jesus doesn’t run, and Love stays on the cross. Resurrection comes with the morning and Friday becomes Good. But in our own stories, during the terrible Fridays and confusing Saturdays of our own lives, when we know the last page of the story yet have no idea what tomorrow will bring, it’s this truth that brings comfort:

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”
Isaiah 46:10

God knows the end from the beginning, and no matter what or how much our days hold, He will hold us. Nothing – no thing – will take Him by surprise. There’s no such thing as “too much” for God, and He will be faithful to meet us in the muchness of our days.

I titled the final piece of the series “For All of Us” because the Good News isn’t just for each of us . . . it’s for all of us, every single piece of us. Come as you are, the cross beckons. Bring your sadness and confusion, your worries and fears. Bring your broken heart and your anger, your wild hope and your “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

One day, we’ll look back and see how every single piece had a purpose. The finished picture will be stunning.

But for now, here in the days of puzzle pieces that don’t yet make sense, we wait.

We watch.

We hope.

And we trust that the One who sees the end from the beginning will meet us in the muchness.

Our days may hold a lot, 500 pieces of This, That, and The Other… but somehow, mysteriously and miraculously, God holds us.

++++

If the puzzle piece you’re holding today is one of sadness or confusion, Day One of the “Here, in the week of it all” series was written with you in mind. Click here to read For The Ones Who Are Weeping. My hope is that it will offer encouragement right in the middle of the muchness.

I posted a small clip of this article on Instagram today. Reels/videos are so far outside my comfort zone, but I’m trying to keep in mind that a different format might reach someone who needs a reminder of hope, someone who might scroll by a static post. If something in this piece resonated, would you consider sharing the video with your people? 💛 (I’ll be right back to sharing as a stand-alone post, no video/reel/camera involved, later this month. Amen.)

If you’re facing the day with a little bit of hope & a heavy heart, Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between was written with you in mind. You are loved, friend, and you are not alone.

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