George Bowers Sr. Putting life’s puzzle together
Winter is the perfect season for jigsaw puzzles. Gathering around a card table with all the pieces sprawled out along with some hot chocolate, soft music, and good friends can be very enjoyable. Conversation is unhindered by the minimal mental effort expended to connect odd shaped pieces with their intended locations.
There’s something satisfying about discovering how the various pieces all fit together. Some, like the corners and edges are very easy. Others are more challenging. You may try them in several places, none of which are correct and you might even wonder if those pieces got into the wrong box by mistake. At times, I’ve considered pulling out my pocket knife to force a solution!
At the same time, the right piece seems to elude you. Where could it possibly be? I bet it’s been lost! Or hidden away by some conniving individual who wants the glory of putting the last piece in.
Slowly, piece by piece through perseverance, trial and error, and calculated effort, the picture begins to come together and eventually the image is complete and beautiful.
The events of our lives are often like so many puzzle pieces. Some of them we can easily make sense of and understand immediately. Others are more challenging, and some are downright impossible. Serious illness, job loss, and unwanted divorce are all really challenging pieces to put together. The most difficult, however, are the deaths of close friends and family members. These pieces just don’t seem to fit anywhere. We don’t even want to try to make them.
And yet, they too, are parts of life’s puzzle, even if we don’t understand them all. Often we can look back on situations that didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, perhaps no beauty or design whatsoever at the time, but now we can see a beautiful picture that God was assembling, although we had no clue while we were suffering through it.
One thing that often helps with a jigsaw puzzle is the box top. It shows us what the completed work is supposed to look like and what all those pieces go together to form. When we know that, it not only helps us with individual pieces, but it also provides the motivation to keep working to see the completed image. It assures us that there is a unifying good purpose to all the disjointed segments.
If we only had a box top for life; some idea of what the finished product should look like. While none of us ever get to see the fully completed picture while we live, it helps to know there is one. It helps to know that all of this does fit together somehow for a larger purpose and a bigger plan that will really be quite beautiful when complete, even if we don’t know what it is at the time. And it’s faith that enables us to keep putting our pieces together, to keep working, to keep trying even when we’re not sure where they all go.
Although the Bible doesn’t offer a painted picture, it does give us spectacular glimpses of what life should look like and it helps us look forward to the finished work. It also helps us to keep working in faith in the meantime. Just as all those crazy jigsaw pieces eventually fit together, so too God’s Word assures us that all the difficult pieces of our lives are assembling a beautiful work, if we allow him to.
When Jesus was crucified, his disciples didn’t understand how any of those pieces fit at the time, but later the picture came together clearly. Combining Old Testament prophecies with Jesus’ words left an unmistakable image of God’s amazing love which he had painted from the beginning. The box top reveals that he willingly paid the price for all the wrongs we’ve ever done so that we can one day be in heaven not only with our saved loved ones, but with God himself!
If you are struggling right now with some difficult piece of life, ask God to help you keep working at life’s puzzle in faith. Ask him to help you put the pieces together in the time and in the way that he wants you to. And continue to live faithfully, knowing he has a bigger, more beautiful picture in mind for you. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored nine books in addition to contributing to Let The Earth Rejoice, 365 Devotions Celebrating God’s Creation by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.