It was complicated. Three hundred pieces cut in the oddest shapes I’d ever seen for a puzzle. Some I swore were edge pieces and for a while was frustrated that they weren’t fitting into the frame with the other edge pieces. If you’re like me, you put the edges together first, then work on the various sections that appear to go together, carefully studying the full image to navigate through the picture. But not everyone does it that way.
One puzzle friend of mine never looks at the picture on the box. She believes that’s cheating and so she constructs puzzles solely by their shapes. I nearly laughed out loud when she told me her strategy. To me, her method is ridiculous, especially when she grabs a piece that is totally unrelated in color then turns it round and round to try to make it fit. I watch this and think what a waste of time that is; to not even consider the colors, their patterns, direction or curvatures seems crazy and frustrating to say the least. Yet, after completing over a dozen puzzles with her, I have learned that her technique works well for her; it’s what she knows and her trained eye is like radar, zeroing in on just the right piece. (Need I mention that her patience level is higher than mine?)
Still, I derive no satisfaction from her methodology. I prefer studying the image on the box top, absorbing its wholeness, beauty and nuances. I hold pieces up to it, attempt to match the color and then estimate the piece’s location in the enlarged frame on the table. I relish the mounting anticipation of accomplishment as each piece clicks perfectly into its proper place, revealing increasingly more of the final picture.
This particular puzzle, however, was disturbing. As I said, pieces were not cut in the traditional shapes and so it wasn’t as enjoyable. Many pieces simply rested next to each other without hooking. And, when I’d match up those non-hooked pieces, I didn’t feel the same satisfaction. It was almost as if I was worried they would fall apart or shift; I couldn’t rest until their surrounding pieces held them securely in place.
As I do with everything, I contemplated how this puzzle compared to life. The Holy Bible has always been the picture on the box for me and each event of my life a piece to the picture. At a very young age, I learned to hold up each piece of my life against God’s Word, studying its pattern, nuance and color to see where it fits in His final image of who I should be. In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul said that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” Paul taught in all the churches he visited that Jesus is the picture of what we should work to create from our lives; that all the pieces of our life should fit together to reflect Him.
That being said, I think it is a colossal waste of time to sit and stare only at the shape of an event or circumstance in our life, continually turning it round and round to make it fit with the other pieces in our life without even looking at the big picture to see where it should go. Instead, unless we have great patience, we get frustrated and walk away, leaving the pieces in a pile for someone else to figure out.
I realize this may be a simplified metaphor of living a life that pleases God, but I believe that living the life God planned for us is easier than we make it. I believe we complicate the puzzle by refusing to look at the Creator’s final image: His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of holding up each of our pieces against the model He gave in Jesus’ life on earth, we frustrate ourselves by turning the circumstance round and round, trying to force it to fit where we want it to fit—where it was not created to fit.
Yes, it’s tempting to get angry and give up when life’s puzzle pieces aren’t traditionally cut; when they don’t fit nicely together the way other puzzle pieces fit. And yes, it’s tempting to look at a piece and think, I know this one doesn’t go with this puzzle. But if it came out of the box, it goes with the puzzle; it’s just a matter of effort and patience to find its place in the big picture.
Are you struggling with a piece of your life? Trust me, it fits in God’s final picture for your life. In His sovereignty He allowed it to happen. It has a place somewhere amongst all the other pieces and from His perspective, it’s beautiful.
Author’s Note: I dedicate this article to my wonderful Editor, Debbie Adlof, who, over the 14 years she has owned, edited and published the Community Word has become a dear friend. Debbie, thank you for letting me write this column in the Community Word and never once censoring my content, despite the mounting public outcry against God’s Word in public venues. Even if you disagreed with my articles, you never let me know and printed them in full. You have always been wonderful to me, though I have been chronically late with my submissions (even on your last issue!). Thank you for your kindness, respect and friendship. May God bless you richly as you focus your attention on your family and any other pursuits He has for you. Believe me, your puzzle, when complete, will be a beautiful picture God created out of beautiful you!