One lazy Sunday afternoon, a father was dozing on the sofa. His wee girl shook him awake, “Daddy, I’m bored!” He looked around for something to do, and noticed that the Sunday newspaper had a photo of a map of the world. He showed her the picture, then tore it into pieces, and told her to put the world back together again. Since she was too young to know where all the countries were, he thought the rest of the afternoon was his to doze in.

A few minutes later she shook him again. “I’m finished, Daddy!”

“You can’t be!”, but when he looked he saw that the world had indeed been put back together. “How did you do that? You didn’t know where all the countries are!”

“Well,” she said, “there was a picture of a person on the other side, and when I got my person back together, the world got back together too.”*

We are like that. Too often our lives get ripped to bits. Our person is in pieces, and because our lives are in pieces, our world is too. So we try to put it all back together again. It’s what we should do.

But then you pick up a piece that reminds you of a hurt in your life. Maybe it happened just recently, maybe it happened many years ago. It was maybe something someone said, and it cut you to the bone. Or you were rejected, or betrayed. Maybe you were blamed for something you didn’t do. It may have been an emotional hurt, or a physical one. Perhaps you were verbally abused, or it may have been physical or sexual abuse. Whatever the hurt was, this piece of the picture of your person reminds you of it, it brings back the bitterness, or the anger, or the shame, or the pain. It hurts again, just as it did before, just as it will tomorrow. You hold on to it, and you can’t put it down. And because you can’t put it down, your person is incomplete. And because your person is incomplete, there is a bit missing in your world.

Then there is another piece of the picture, a piece that is a hang-up. It’s something that is always there. Maybe you were told so many times that you were useless, and now you believe it: you never achieve anything. You have been frightened by someone so many times, now you live in fear all the time. Someone broke your heart, now you never let anyone close. Or they broke a promise, now you can trust no one. Maybe you have been rejected, and now you are dejected all the time. Your sadness over something grew and grew, now you live a life of depression. The piece of you person will not fit anywhere, you know it, there is no point in trying. You won’t let it go. So your person is incomplete. So your world is missing something.

You have a piece in your hand which is a habit. It might be just a wee, insignificant habit – or maybe that is how it started. You became obsessed with it, you are possessed by it. It might be a small, harmless habit. It might be just a constant emotion, or it might be a physical addiction – drink, narcotics, sex, medication, gambling. Perhaps you self-harm, perhaps you harm others. One thing is for sure, it’s not good for you, it’s not good for those around you. You hold that piece of your person all the time, and you just don’t have time or the inclination to touch the other pieces. A lot of your person is missing, and most of your world is missing too.

Hurts, hang-ups and habits. They steal a piece of our person. Whether it’s a small bit or a huge bit, our person is incomplete. That is why our world isn’t right – there is something missing.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14, NLT)

God has a plans for you. They are plans without any piece of your person missing – plans for good.

If you have a hurt, a hang-up or a habit there is help available in the Bible, and one of the ways that you can access that help is through the Celebrate Recovery programme, which specifically addresses hurts, hang-ups and habits through God’s word and the love of Jesus Christ. The Celebrate Recovery programme starts in my church on 25th February and you can get further details at Freedom City Church, or Google Celebrate Recovery for a programme near you.

*with thanks to Rick Warren for the story