Fragments...

I glance up and see Jesus. Standing there, unaware of anyone else, my friend Peg has her head bowed and hands extended, showing me what I’ve never seen before: Jesus as a reachable, touchable God. He leans towards her, his forehead gently resting against hers, tenderly holding her hands. Quiet, private, personal. The intimacy makes me gasp. I might hold out my hands, too, if I thought he would hold me back.


**

She had never looked more beautiful. Glenna stood at the altar, eyes closed, oblivious to those around her, swaying gently to the soft worship music being played. She slowly raised her hand as a single tear meandered down her smooth, soft cheek. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t look away, even after she finished praying, so she answered the question I wasn’t sure how to form. Jesus was right there, she said, so she lifted her hand and laid it on his face, a gentle, gentle caress.

**

The intensity around the table eases with our laughter. A group of women, gathered for a Bible study, are telling their stories. Joanie, a quiet woman whose countenance reflects His light, puts into words what I’ve never been able to. I’ve struggled with Christian-ese — talking about my walk, being saved, all the phrases that seem trite and off-putting. She looks up, smiling, and says it pure and simple. “That’s when I fell in love with Jesus.”

**

Maybe he just doesn’t love me that much, I think. Sandee, a woman from my church, testified about feeling, for just that moment, like she was God’s favorite. Part of me was shocked by her arrogance and confidence; the rest of me was devastated by my lack of understanding.

I go home, thinking. I want that. But how do I finally commit, once and for all? How do I find more? No more doubts. Will he let me get closer? Will he reveal himself? I am yours, Lord, in every thought, every deed. I only want to know the truth. I only want what’s real. Show me firsthand. The atmosphere is charged, electric, the weight of it on my chest forcing shallow breaths. Show me, Lord. Show me how to yield my will. Show me how to take that next step closer to you. You’ll have to do it because I feel ridiculous and incompetent. My faith is so weak. But you are strong, God. You are righteous, and holy, and kind. You are a healer, full of mercy and grace. You are my light, and my strength, and my salvation. Thank you, Lord, for the amazing things you’ve done. For your gifts. For showing me how real you are. If you never did a single other thing, I still couldn’t thank you enough. I can’t believe you love me this much. I can’t believe I’m your favorite, even if it’s just for this moment.

**

Fragments merge, parts and angles and colors and details becoming an artful mosaic, individual lives combining to show a God greater than all the pieces. Up close, I see lives of authenticity, moments of faith, women who teach and lead and encourage. But when I pull back, just slightly, to get a better view, to blur my eyes and see what I can see, I see so much more. I see power and holiness. Patterns and combinations come together, connected and inspired, in ways beyond my imagining. So far beyond. And connecting it all, my God. This God connects lives, connects hearts, draws them together, perfectly placing those who are needed, cementing them together with his unbreakable, unbendable love.

Is it time, Lord, I whisper, only a little afraid. I want to be ready, ready for this next step, ready to be part of the new montage only he can fully imagine. Am I? I don’t know. I falter, realizing again what I already know: his mosaic is not one made of square, smooth tiles. No, this is jagged, broken pottery. Pieces that don’t match. Hearts that hurt. Dreams that must be abandoned. Sharp, splintered edges. Failings, doubts, flaws of character and pride and perseverance. But it’s all his.  A L L   H I S .   And he reminds me that, in his creation, even the most damaged piece of mosaic tile is lovingly placed by a gentle hand and a creative eye.

I submit this post as an entry for a scholarship for She Speaks, a conference for women who long to tell his stories. Because here’s the thing: the complete masterpiece can be overwhelming, flooding our senses and emotions, almost too much to grasp. But the pieces? That’s something we can understand. One at a time. And as I witness these lives, as I struggle to capture their essence through my words, I’m offering a part of myself in each of their pieces, too, not just my own. The Spirit of the Lord rises up, recognizing itself in another, forming a permanent bond. These moments of connection, these glimpses into the artist, are shining fragments of glory and radiance. Oh, how his glory shines, even in the tiniest piece, the smallest life, the barest glimmer of hope. I close my eyes, daring to imagine.

**

This conference, She Speaks, is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God. The scholarship is offered by Ann Voskamp, a woman whose words have soothed and delighted my soul, strengthening my own connection with the heart of God.