I am experiencing the tree falling in the forest dilemma once again. I finally completed a jigsaw puzzle but with no one here to bear witness to this accomplishment of mine, the question can be raised – ‘did I really finish the puzzle or not?’ I say finish because my older daughter started the puzzle and did about three-fourths of it before she left. So all I had to do was to fill in the remaining gaps, she had done the harder work of bringing the puzzle to this point. I confess – I am intimidated by all those tiny pieces and I further confess – I felt challenged in her absence, compelled even, to finish what she had started. So rather than putting the puzzle pieces back in the box, having never completed the picture that the puzzle would reveal, I dedicated myself to putting the remaining puzzle pieces into their proper places, thereby completing the picture.
Trouble is, they are tiny pieces which all look alike basically. Actually, there are differences in shape and in shading, but they are subtle differences, not obvious to the casual observer. These minute differences, which make all the difference in finding each piece’s proper place, only become apparent as I spend time studying the pieces and the possible connections available to make. It is a slow, time consuming process, this pastime of puzzling. Nevertheless, there is such a feeling of accomplishment when I find the proper place for each piece (after despairing of ever finding a fit for some of the pieces) and there is the thrill of victory when the puzzle is finally complete, every piece in place.
Too bad life isn’t like my puzzle – every piece in place, connecting together to create a beautiful picture. I think it was intended to be that way, but ever since ‘the fall’, which caused separation from our Creator, life has been full of missing pieces, disconnected pieces, pieces that don’t seem to fit together the way we want them to do in order to create the picture of our life that we are longing to have revealed. But maybe that’s part of the problem. With my puzzle, there is a picture on the box of what the puzzle will look like when all the pieces are correctly connected together. I can use that picture to guide me as I attempt to put the pieces together in the way they were meant to fit together. If I succeed in putting each piece in its proper place, my puzzle is a perfect reflection of the picture on the puzzle box.
But putting together the puzzle that is my life isn’t so easy. I don’t have a picture on a box to guide me. Then I realize the picture that I need is in God’s Word. The Bible contains the blueprint for my life. Everything I need to put the pieces together correctly is given to me in my Heavenly Father’s love letter to me, His Word, the Bible. I was made to reflect His glory, and when all the pieces are in place, that will happen. The master plan is His and I often don’t see the whole picture because my vision is so limited. That’s why I have to trust Him. By myself, I’m not all that, but connected to other people in God’s bigger puzzle picture, we all together become a thing of beauty, a beautiful reflection of the One who designed the mosaic and designed it with a specific place for each of us in His finished work.
What does a puzzle look like if even one piece is missing? It is glaringly incomplete. It is unfinished. Its value is diminished. Its beauty is marred. It is not whole because it has a hole. God feels the same way about us as His creation. Look what He says about the stars in Isaiah 40:26,
” . . . He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
Our Creator is a God of completion, of perfection. Not even one star in all the galaxies of all the universe is missing! Likewise, I will not be, you will not be that missing puzzle piece in God’s mosaic. John 10:27-30 clearly explains it this way,
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
We are held securely in God’s hands. He has a purpose for us. He has a place for us. You and I have a specific place to fill that no one else can fill. I know that in my puzzle, only one specific piece will fit perfectly in the space that is its to fill. No other piece is the exact right shape, the exact right shade and color combination to connect correctly to all the other puzzle pieces adjoining its space. 1 Peter 2:4-5 describes it like this,
“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
We are parts of a spiritual house being built, being put together by God for a purpose – the purpose of offering spiritual sacrifices to God – the purpose of reflecting His glory when the house, the mosaic, the puzzle God is putting together is complete. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us just how vital each piece, each part is to the whole and therefore is to God –
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. . . . But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. . . . Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 18-20, 27)
the lessons of the puzzle are many – I have a place, I have a purpose, I am a part of something bigger than myself. You, too, dear readers, have a place, have a purpose – you are a part of something bigger than yourself. We all search for a place to belong. As it turns out, God created us and prepared for us, prepared for you and for me, a place to belong, from the very beginning.
“For (you are, I am) we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Even if I can’t figure out quite where I fit in this big puzzle that is life, God knows which space is the space that only I can fill because He designed me uniquely, specifically with that space in mind, for me to fill that particular place in the puzzle. Being placed in that unique space requires that I connect perfectly with the puzzle pieces that surround me on every side. When I make those connections, more of the mosaic God is creating is revealed as it comes to life. What a beautiful, powerful picture of God’s loving intention towards each one of us.
We were created for connection! Our divine purpose and potential are only realized as we are connected to those around us, as we are connected to each other. We cannot fulfill our God given calling in isolation. The puzzle pieces are interlocking parts of a bigger picture. By themselves, no one piece conveys any sense of the whole. Only when the individual pieces are connected to each other, does the picture emerge. Maybe that’s why this past year has been so difficult. We have all faced hardships, loss and trials in our lives before. But we have always been able to face disasters in community with others, our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow church members etc. We did not have to face illness, unemployment, fear and uncertainty alone – until COVID. We were isolated at the very time we most needed connection.
Hopefully, it is now a time of reconnection, a time of finding our place in the puzzle and locking arms with our connecting pieces of the puzzle. I want to find and to fill my place in God’s puzzle. The beautiful thing about this mosaic put together by God is that each and every piece is irreplaceable and of infinite value. That’s you and that’s me, that is each and every piece/person created in God’s image. We are all equally precious in God’s sight and so should we then be in each other’s sight. I recognize that without you, my brothers and my sisters, without even one of you, this puzzle which God is putting together, will have a hole in it. This puzzle will not be complete. Each puzzle piece is uniquely irreplaceable, just as each person is to God. This is the lesson my puzzle taught me today.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:12-14)
Today, may you know how much your Heavenly Father loves you – you have a place in His puzzle – a space all your own, that only you can fill . . .
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
sincerely, Grace Day