What is missing in the picture of my life?
Do you ever feel like something is missing in your life? Have you been searching for the missing piece? Or maybe you are longing for the missing peace?
In our early years of school, we were handed a delightful picture to evaluate. “Look at the picture and figure out what is missing,” we were told. Carefully we pondered each detail and compared it in our minds with a similar image we had seen before. Some of the pictures were ridiculously obvious in their omissions, but others were painfully elusive. It was terribly frustrating when our classmates would bounce in their seats and exclaim, “I know! I know! I know!” while we continued our search. We would view the picture from side to side, top to bottom, over and over again. What a relief when we could finally notice the missing piece.
Then the teacher’s next instructions followed: “Now draw in the missing part.” When it came to drawing, I (Melanie) was definitely not labeled as talented! I would struggle and agonize in my attempts to fill in the missing piece. Needless to say, it was always obvious where I had filled in the missing lines. Surprisingly, I could always tell where the talented children had drawn their lines too. Since none of us were the original artist of the drawing, we could not perfectly complete the picture.
We are incomplete.
Unfortunately, as adults, there are some lessons we still have not learned from that elementary school exercise. Our lives are given to us as a wonderful design. We were created carefully and meticulously for a marvelous purpose. Each day we evaluate and ponder the intricate details of the many aspects that come together to structure our lives. Repeatedly we come to the conclusion that something is missing in my life. We struggle in our search as others around us exclaim, “I know! I know! I know!” and lead us on one fruitless chase after another. So in an attempt to not appear stupid, we create our own design to fill in the emptiness. But no matter how creative we are, our ultimate creation never matches the design our Creator planned unless we allow Him to complete the picture.
God knows what is missing in my life.
God is the Master Designer. In His mind’s eye, He can see the completed masterpiece of our lives. The vastness of the task does not overwhelm Him. He delights in His creation. Knowing from the beginning to the ending His desired results, He patiently fashions the portrait. It is His self-portrait.
Unfortunately, the design we are sketching is our self-portrait. We are looking for happiness, fulfillment, meaning, control, freedom, belonging, relationships, money, contentment, satisfaction, and the list could go on and on. Foolishly we attempt to complete what the Master designed. Disappointment results when a novice attempts to complete a masterpiece independent of the Master.
God’s design requires us to be dependent on Him. Because we believe Satan’s lie that we are capable on our own, we seek to fill the void to our own satisfaction. All the while God replies, “I know!” He patiently waits for us to come to the Master Designer for our picture to be perfectly complete.
So you also are complete through your union with Christ.Colossians 2:10 NLT
We are trying to complete ourselves.
Consider these two questions:
- What do I really want?
- How will I attain it?
The sin nature motivates us to be desperate individuals, and we choose influences other than Christ.
Desperate Dependency includes several examples of those who chose people, positions, and possessions to empower their lives. You may also follow the links to read about Abram and Sarai who wanted a baby to complete them. And Diane needed to find Christ relevant to her security.
In each of the illustrations, individuals were attempting to complete their lives by their own design. They searched for satisfaction that was fleeting by employing methods they could control. But ask yourself this question: “Am I trying to complete my life by my own means?”
- Do I gravitate to people to search for satisfaction?
- Do I use positions (CEO, wife, husband, mother, millionaire) to seek fulfillment?
- Do I believe possessions can produce significance?
Consider it this way: Who or what can I not live without? Your response reveals what empowers your life.
We can only be complete in Christ.
We fall into a trap if we believe a person, position, or possession other than Jesus can complete our lives. In our daily struggles, we search for ways to stimulate our emotions or sedate our emotions in order to feel good. But that which makes me feel good enslaves me. The end result is bondage. What a cunning ploy Satan has devised! “This is what you need to feel good about yourself,” he asserts as he lays the net to ensnare you.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 NIV
An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.Proverbs 5:22 NLT
These strongholds are fortifications that keep us imprisoned.
I want what I want!
But if you really want something, who is going to stop you? The natural desire of the heart is self-indulgence: I want what I want! The end of all self-indulgence is bondage. The very thing we want will destroy us.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.James 1:14–15 NLT
Our self-centered choices lead to strongholds that result in relationship problems, emotional difficulties, physical challenges, and even a crisis of faith. And so we sit, looking at life through the portholes of our own strongholds that have imprisoned us.
Why are you trying to do it yourself?
The Galatians were struggling with similar issues. Paul poses this question to them.
After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?Galatians 3:3 NLT
They had fallen into the deception that by practicing religious rites they could be made right with God. Therefore, they had arrived at the solution that a relationship with Christ was not enough; they needed more. Paul pleads with them.
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.Galatians 5:1 NLT
Live in Freedom
In Paul’s writing to Timothy he admonished Timothy to point people to the truth, so
Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.2 Timothy 2:26 NLT
If we live within God’s parameters, we will live in freedom. Mistakenly we believe that freedom is living without rules. With this definition, you may choose to live in freedom while driving down the road disregarding speed limits, traffic lights, and dividing lines. Before arriving at your destination, you will likely be in an accident and injure yourself or someone else, receive a ticket, or be jailed. Living within the boundaries of truth is essential to enjoying freedom.
Dr. James Dobson repeatedly claimed that children raised without boundaries grow to be insecure.
Years ago, during the early days of the progressive-education movement, an enthusiastic theorist decided to take down the chain-link fence that surrounded the nursery-school yard. He thought the children would feel more freedom of movement without that visible barrier surrounding them. When the fence was removed, however, the boys and girls huddled near the center of the play yard. Not only did they not wander away; they didn’t even venture to the edge of the grounds. Clearly, there is a security for all of us in defined boundaries.James Dobson, Solid Answers (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1997), 105–106.
What Is the Solution?
But if people, positions, or possessions do not offer freedom or the solution for enjoying a complete life, what is the solution? Galatians 5:16 supplies the answer.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.Galatians 5:16 NIV
Therefore, we are to conduct our lives “by the Spirit.” This requires a relationship with God’s Spirit in which we dependently trust Him with all our needs. This is an astonishing assertion, “you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (NASB). In the Greek text, the double negative construction emphasizes, “there is no way on earth, you can ever” carry out the desires of the flesh if you are living by the Spirit. Do you like the sound of that?
Brokenness is a prerequisite to a fulfilled life.
However, the catch is that brokenness is a prerequisite: we cannot depend on God without first giving up our willfulness. We must give up the right to want what we want and trade it for wanting what God wants. “But I don’t want to give up what I want,” you may whine. Then you are not ready for a desperately dependent relationship on God that results in a life that is divinely enabled. This relationship begins by giving up our self-centered lives in exchange for Christ-centered lives that result from the forgiveness of sin. Without giving up our willfulness, we cannot know the heart of God and want what He wants.
If we are to be a picture of Christ, a Christian, then we are to live as He lived—desperately dependent on God for divine enablement for personal empowerment. Thus, holiness is true healthiness—to be complete in Christ. How is this possible? We tear down strongholds through obedience to Christ.
We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NLT
Through our obedience, that special place where divine enablement meets with personal empowerment, we are doing what God says for us to do.
Access the power of God through obedience.
Although the spirit of self will fight the Spirit of God, when our minds are filled with His words and with our interaction through prayer, we will access the power of God.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature.Galatians 5:13 NLT
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.Galatians 5:16–25 NLT
I Can Be Complete
In short, God wants me to be complete in the person of Christ, in my position as His child, and in the possession of His righteousness. But, we say, I have my own life plan that I am sure will be exactly what God wants for me, so if He would just enable me to accomplish my purposes I could be complete. I want God to empower me to not need Him. And so we travel our own path, claiming to be a Christian but refusing to be desperately dependent on Christ, who offers His portrait in place of our sketch.
In conclusion consider, by what means are you going to choose to empower your life? Will you allow the Master to complete His self-portrait through your life by means of the fruit of His Spirit?
Ultimately, if you choose to live by the Spirit, the strongholds will be broken, resulting in a complete, divinely empowered life—a picture of Christ. If you are not dependent on Christ, today is the best day of the rest of your life; it will be downhill from here.
- What is missing in my life?
- Who or what can I not live without?
- What do I really want? How will I attain it?
- Who or what do I turn to when in crisis?
- What difference is there in my life because I say I am a Christian? (if you were to come to me and say, “My name is _________ and I am a Christian,” what message would you want that to communicate to me?)
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Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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