Monday, July 29, 2013

Putting the Pieces Together

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Psalm 119:1

I remember the first time Sandy and I walked through the multiple showrooms of an IKEA store. Room after room was set up for display. They even gave the square footage the matching sets of furniture would fill and beautify. Everything was color coordinated and perfectly spaced. We opened drawers to check out the quality of each piece of furniture, switched on lights, handled fabrics, sat on chairs, and stretched out on beds to get an idea of their comfort. You could mix and match, or purchase an entire suite or sectional. Picking out a couple of nightstands, we loaded them into our vehicle and headed for home. As you probably know, IKEA furniture is unassembled.

IKEA furniture looks very different unassembled...

Opening the first box, we pulled out the contents: panels, frames, slide rails, bags of screws, hinges, pegs, and glue. Looking at what seemed like hundreds of pieces that were to become one integrated whole, I sighed. I am not a craftsman. After a few moments of sputtering and fretting, I looked for the instructions. All the while I was thinking to myself, "I don't have the tools necessary to put this together." Then I pulled out the instructions, which said the only tool needed was the allen wrench and glue included in the assembly kit.

I thought, that can't be!

It was true. The sum of all those parts could be assembled into the solid, dark wood of two bedroom nightstands. When we finished they were beautiful, solid, and useable. I was joyful.

In the Scripture above, the writer talks of integrity. At its root, the word comes from integer. An integer is any number, negative or positive, that is a whole number (i.e. 1,2,3,4, or -1,-2,-3,-4, on into infinity). Fractions are not integers, but fractions can be combined to form an integer (i.e. 3/4 plus 1/4 equals 1).

No metaphor is perfect, and in this case we are much more fearfully, wonderfully, and complicatedly made than a pieces of mass-produced home decor. But in a sense, the IKEA store is metaphor for our life. Scripture gives us a picture of what we will look like when we are fully assembled as our Creator originally designed. In the meantime, we lack complete integrity. We are fragments and fractions--not yet the sum total of all our parts. But upon receiving our new life through the new birth, we seek to be a person of integrity, and, praise God, we can move in that direction. As we follow the instructions of our Master Designer, things start coming together. Something Divinely beautiful takes shape. Amid the adventure of it all, joy is found.

As I said, the metaphor is not perfect, because we will never be completely whole in our sojourn here. Sighing and groaning will be ever present as we await our final redemption. But God, the Spirit of God, the Son of God, and the Word of God, who is Integrity, is on our side. He is, if you will, the wrench and glue that take our fractured, disassembled life, put it together, and keep it together.

Our part is to employ the tools and follow the instructions. 

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