Peace in the Pieces

A peaceful morning sky explodes with fiery colors of looming hope. The foreboding day beckons peaceful, potential possibilities. Dew gently rests on humbled blades of heavy laden grass. Ambitious shafts of orange rapidly puncture the cool morning air. A father embraces his son before watching the small silhouette fade down the long path. As the figure vanishes beyond the horizon, the father busies himself in preparation for the peaceful return of his sons. Hours whirl by and the joyous heart of the father is plagued with fear. Brilliant beams of hope sink below the edge of the earth — the father’s heart follows. Explanations merge with fear, crippling the mind and shackling the heart. Somewhere in the middle of the night, a stir at the door awakens the father. Weary sons stoically stand holding the tattered coat of his boy. Peering at the visible reflection of his heart, the father examines every tear and tattered piece. A violent beast has stolen his son — forever. The brilliantly dyed coat of many colors is stained with the blood of dreams. Dreams of the father. Dreams of the son. Dreams once synonymous with this draped cloth, are now torn to pieces. Jacob seeks peace in the pieces.
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    Genesis 15 is one of those places in Scripture that is studded with tiny gems of revelation. From Abram fighting the fowls of the air for the right to his sacrifice, to God’s steadfast covenant, the chapter outlines a highlight reel moment in Abram’s life. In the setting, we find that Abram has not yet become Abraham. He does not yet know the sheer enormity of the promises that God has for him. However, in obedience to his God, Abram prepares a sacrifice: a three-year-old heifer, she-goat, and ram, along with turtledoves and young pigeons (Genesis 15:9). Abram then took his sacrifice and prepared it in pieces. A whole heifer. A whole she-goat. A whole ram. Each of these now lay scattered in a gruesome field of pieces. 
    Fast forwarding to the New Testament, we arrive at a dark stormy night on the Mediterranean. Euroclydon, that great tempest, has bore down on the sea-aged wood of a faltering vessel for days. Though Paul had warned about this moment, all hearts now thumped in a congruent coalition of sheer survival. The men were forced to let the ship sail itself through the merciless mountains and valleys of liquid mayhem. Crates and barrels continuing once valuable cargo that was carefully loaded to the ship were now recklessly hauled overboard. The context of the moment had depreciated both grain and gold to near worthless weight. The storm determines true value. Ultimately the frightening ride sinks below the waves and the men were forced to swim for their lives, “and the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land” (Acts 27:44). A valuable cargo ship is now scattered in a floating field of pieces.
    There is a common theme both in the sacrifice of Abram and the shipwreck of Paul. God was found in the pieces. Genesis 15:17 says, “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces” (King James Version). The presence of God literally moved between the broken pieces of Abram’s sacrifice. On the ruthless waves of the Mediterranean, God’s protection and purpose was found sustaining lives on bobbing, broken pieces. God was in the pieces. 
    Whether it be intentional or involuntary, maybe you feel as though your life is just that — pieces. Broken pieces of the past. Shattered pieces of the future. Splintered hopes. Fragmented dreams. Crushed, you stand with buckling knees holding pieces. Abram held the pieces of a sacrifice. The crew clung to the pieces of a ship. Allow me to remind you today; God moves in the pieces. It was the pieces of Abram’s sacrifice that produced a covenant. The pieces of Paul’s ship carried the Gospel to a new people. The peace of God’s purpose will always be found in the midst of pieces. 
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    From the perspective of Jacob, the dreams of his son were destroyed with the coat. Torn fabric. Pieces of dreams. Jacob did not know that his son was indeed alive, making daily progress towards those dreams. For years, Jacob was forced to cope with the idea that his dreamer was gone. The coat of many colors was both his biggest pride and deepest hurt. Dreams, potential, and aspirations were all ripped away by a blood-stained coat. Often we find ourselves in the same place as Jacob. Hopes and dreams are quickly devoured by some unknown beast, and we are left only holding the shambles of what once was. Future dreams are now only distance memories. Hopes, desires gone in the blink of an eye, shattered into a million pieces. Yet, even in the pieces, allow me to remind you that there is hope. There is hope in the brokenness. There is comfort in the storm. There is peace in the pieces.
    Hundreds of years after Jacob and Joseph both passed away and their bones turned to dust, there was another man whose coat was torn. Matthew 27:35 explains that the soldiers at Calvary tore the robe of Jesus and cast lots for them. The garment was certainly worth more in one piece, but this way everyone got their share. The same blood that was shed for eternal salvation now soaked these pieces. Even in the midst of the torn fibers, peace soaked them through.
    Woven throughout the experiences of Jacob, Abram, Paul, and Jesus is the reality that even in the pieces of loss, sacrifice, peril, and pain peace can still be found. If you find yourself holding the broken pieces of life today, I ask you to look deeper. Deep within the very fibers of the pain there will always be found the everlasting peace of Jesus. Again, the peace of God’s purpose will always be found in the midst of pieces. 
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27, KJV).