PROPHETIC PERSPECTIVE: PIECES OF GOD'S PUZZLE
One of the benefits of walking with Jesus through this life is that we gain the advantage of perspective. My husband describes it this way: imagine that you are walking along the “timeline” of life: a horizontal line with both a starting and ending point. The starting point would be Genesis and the ending point, of course, is the end of time, as pictured in Revelation.
God, however, lives outside of time. He is the Creator of it, yet is not bound by it. Picture God as residing somewhere above our imaginary timeline, seated on His throne, and able to see both beginning and end at once because of His “omniscient” position.
When we connect with God as believers, our spirits are no longer bound by time or distance because of the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit within us. God steps into our world through the Spirit who now dwells within us. The distance between us and God has been eradicated, and God now walks with us. He enters time.
Yet we also have the ability to ascend, in the Spirit, to a place that is outside of time. The Bible says that in Christ, we, too, are “seated in heavenly places,” and from this new position, we gain God’s perspective. (See Ephesians 2:6). It might be likened to the view the astronauts have when they soar into space and see the earth from afar.
Suddenly, we can see the “big picture.” The puzzle of life now has shape, definition, and form. We see how it all fits together, how it really looks.
A PROPHETIC EXAMPLE
The Old Testament prophet Daniel experienced this when he was taken up in the Spirit and shown visions of rulers who would come many years after his death. He foretold the rising and fall of kingdoms yet unknown to the people in his time because he had gained God’s perspective. His vision helped future leaders of Israel understand and prepare for the times in which they lived.
The prophetic perspective has an important role in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. So important, in fact, that Paul writes that the church itself is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We need God’s perspective in order to plan strategically for what is to come.
A recent use of perspective is the development of the 10/40 window idea in missions. By stepping back to see which peoples were still unreached, we have been able to identify the gaps in our evangelistic efforts and focus our attention, prayers, and resources on those nations, thus furthering the cause of the Gospel.
Seeing the big picture, however, has both blessings and pitfalls. In this highly connected digital age, it is easier than ever to see the big picture. And on a personal level, our newly-acquired perspective sometimes confuses us.
Suddenly, we are overwhelmed by the needs we see – the gaps in the “ministry” puzzle which so obviously need to be filled. There is no way that one believer can meet all the demands of the worthy ministries we come into contact with. Where are the laborers, we ask? Should I be stepping in to fill this gap? Many pieces of the puzzle seem to be lost or missing. Leaders, especially, can be tempted to yield frantically to the search for missing pieces in a valiant attempt to complete the puzzle.
Just as God expands our vision prophetically to release strategies for Kingdom growth, so the enemy tries to stretch us to capacity as we seek to fill ministry needs we are not called to fill. Whether at a local or a national level, we are forced to see that there are gaps (still!), and also that we cannot possibly fill them ourselves.
Fortunately, this is a good place for us to land. Our new perspective shows us both the greatness of the mission task and our utter inability to fulfill it alone. The solution, as always, is to do things God’s way: to ask Him for His strategies, so that others might be enabled to find their places in the big picture, too.
A jigsaw puzzle must be completed piece by piece, in a certain order, before the placement of certain sections will be revealed. Without connecting preliminary pieces, it will not be known how others are to fit in. Only God can show us what’s next and where we belong.
Many of us have prayed, “Lord, show me where I fit in. Show me which piece of the puzzle I am. Should I be in this section or that one? Am I at the top or the bottom? Where are the pieces I should be connecting to?”
I prayed a similar prayer once. Faced with mounting pressure from ministry needs and gaps I could see in the divine puzzle, I felt confused. There were simply too many needs for me to fill - needs I could fill and had even been prepared for – in other words, too many viable options. Like a puzzle piece suspended over a work in progress, I couldn’t see where I should fit at the time. God’s answer surprised me.
“Despite how you may feel,” He said, “you have already been placed within my Kingdom puzzle. I have divinely ordained the place where you live and the Body you are a part of. Based upon your true colors and your personal design, you have been set into a section of My puzzle where you can snugly connect with others around you. You have only to reach out and explore those connections. Like interlocking tabs and slots, you are made to work with those around you, holding larger sections of the puzzle together. Start where you are locally and your reach will extend globally.”
It can be tempting to try to “fit in” somewhere that we don’t belong – somewhere He has not created us to be. Even more so when the gaps seem overwhelming and the needs pressing. By all means, meet the needs you can meet. Reach those within your reach. But don’t allow the enemy to use the perspective you gain to pull you out of your God-given position in His overall plan.
What, then, of all the gaps in ministry? Jesus recognized them, too. Even as a man like us, walking our timeline, He saw the big picture. The fields are white for harvest, He said. Pray for laborers to be sent out. (See John 4:35; Luke 10:2).
New perspectives should be met with prayer. When we pray, the hand of God moves ever more swiftly to scoop up the next pieces of the puzzle, setting them carefully into place. The gaps close, and the image becomes clear. The picture we are completing is the image of His glory. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord is begining to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. (See Habakkuk 2:14).