Imagine the scene (and you can because you’ve been there) – First, you dump all of the pieces out of the box onto the table. If there are any pieces that remain joined from the factory, you have to tear them apart. Then, you begin the process of putting it all back together. Find the four corners and all of the edges. (Don’t cha hate when that one middle piece with a nearly straight side gets mixed in with the real edges.) Separate the remaining pieces based on color and/or where you think they fit into the overall picture.
Doesn’t life often feel a lot like working on a 5,000-piece puzzle without a box top and with six similar pieces from an unrelated puzzle mixed in? Sometimes, I feel like God has dumped thousands of puzzle pieces in my lap. Taken a few out. Added a few that don’t belong. And, expects me to put it all together without any reference. It’s worse than one of those solid color puzzles. You know the one where thousands of pieces come together to form the solid white or yellow or blue square that graces the top of the box.
In truth, God doesn’t ask me to complete the puzzle. In fact, He is the master puzzler in charge of bringing the pieces into focus. I am the one who brings on the stress of puzzling. I am but a piece in God’s Grand puzzle.
God has handed each of us our one piece – each of our lives – to fit within His eternal vision. Yet, since that encounter with the Serpent, mankind has lost his focus. We try to shoehorn ourselves into the role of “puzzler.” We became dissatisfied with our roles as the grandest of pieces within God’s grand masterpiece.
Dissatisfied with our one “piece,” we become frustrated. We jam pieces together in a vain attempt to create some semblance of a picture. Our work looks abstract or Cubist in comparison to God’s eternal box top. Our edges are too soft and our inside lines are too sharp.
God’s hiding the box top, we grumble. When I am swimming in the consequences of my own choices, I’ve accused God unfairly of obscuring the image. Then there are other times. Times when I’m picking up the pieces of the consequences caused by someone else’s choices. That’s when I really want to scream out – God why are you shrouding the scene?
What I tend to forget (and maybe you do too) in those frightening, anxious, uncomfortable times – God has pulled back the veil. Despite our feeling that we are working blind, God has given us a glimpse of the box top. Before the Serpent entered the scene, We (mankind) walked in a lush and glorious garden in the very presence of God. We had no needs that were unsatisfied. No wants that went unmet. There was no shame. There were no tears.
Life was good . . . life was very good.
There is another day on the horizon when We will return to that idyllic life. No unsatisfied needs. No unmet wants. No more shame. No more tears. On that day, the entire veil will be pulled back revealing clearly what God has pictured as eternal glory. All of the pieces will fall into place.
This is the hope that guides us here in the valley, this “puzzle table” between the two “box tops.” There is no need to commandeer the role of “Master Puzzler.” We can relax understanding that we are only responsible for our one little piece. However, we must be careful not to downplay the importance of the one piece of the puzzle that God has handed over to each of us.
The final puzzle will not be complete without each one of our pieces settled into its proper place. We are not responsible for the big picture, but we are an integral part of the Big Picture.
So, what are we to do with our individual “pieces”? Find the purpose of our “pieces.” Strive to discover our “pieces” fit. Endeavor to explore how our “piece” lends support to other pieces around us.
With each new connection, we slowly and surely build little vignettes of the kingdom to come.
Dear Father, give us the confidence to shift our focus from the box top to our individual pieces. Send Your Spirit to provide us with the courage to trust You when we feel like the random piece that got mixed in and doesn’t belong. Give us strength to move forward when we feel like that section from the factory that was “whole” only to be broken back down. Guide us to that place within Your corners and edges where we help to bring Your grand picture to life.
We thank You for the glimpse into Paradise and the promise that we can return. This is our Hope when we cannot fathom how all of the pieces will one day fit. We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!
Postscript – My Aunt Lee with whom I put together so many jigsaw puzzles (usually a cheesy landscape typically featuring a water mill) headed off to Paradise ten years ago this week. Aunt Lee was a picture of God’s love. She was by no means perfect but you never had to earn her love. She gave it freely. I pray that she is “whooping” it up around heaven with my Brooke until the day comes that I join them. To say that I miss these two would be the ultimate understatement.