Oh, how frustrating…to come to the last few pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and discover a piece or two are missing! What was that all about?! How could we invest all that time and effort into matching up the myriad of pieces without ever being able to complete it…without ever being able to see the entire picture?! We had seen the picture on the cover of the box, but will never have the satisfaction of seeing the life size puzzle displayed in its entirety.
On the contrary, when we open a sealed package of a new puzzle, we can be assured all the pieces are enclosed-just waiting to be restored to their original precut form. There is confidence in knowing our time and efforts will result in the intended outcome. Thus, the process brings us enjoyment and eventually satisfaction in having solved the puzzle.
Life is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle is made up of a random number of pieces which have been cut from a cardboard image or design for the purpose of being placed together in the specific order to recreate that original design. Each of us, on the other hand, have been created by God in his image as a totally unique individual with a purpose specific to us alone. He has designed/planned out our life and equipped us with gifts that will enable us to accomplish that purpose.
Just as we strive toward the vision of completing our in-progress puzzle, we have our own personal hopes and dreams. Amazingly enough some at a very young age have a clear vision of their future. It appears they never waiver from that vision until it is accomplished. That is the exception, however, for most of us have aspirations which evolve over time as we traverse this life through trials, challenges and victories. Nevertheless, within the depths of our spirit lies the vision implanted within us to guide us toward our intended purpose.
There are times when we force a puzzle piece thinking it is the right one. Eventually, however, we will discover it just won’t work! We may be deceived by the shape or colors thinking we have gathered all those similar colors together in anticipation of pulling a large portion of the picture together all at once. Yet try as we will, we cannot force those wrong pieces into place. It is rather the slow, deliberate process of working one piece at a time into place that will eventually result in completion the masterpiece.
In life there are times when we try to force various situations (i.e., relationships, careers, major life decisions) that appear to be good fits for us. Yet it takes time, patience and prayerful discernment to get to know someone, to gather information regarding a decision, etc. Oftentimes, it is only after we have allowed a person into our life spending time with them that we discover they are not a good fit for us. If we force those wrong relationships or situations, we will find unhappiness, disappointment and disruption in our life. Just as in the puzzle piece, if we have to force it, it just isn’t the proper fit for our life.
Solving a complex jigsaw puzzle can be quite time consuming. The time spent working on it can be tedious and frustrating–or it can be an enjoyable experience. Those who are compulsive may find themselves compelled to go it alone sitting up into the late hours of the night or day unable to stop until it is finished, becoming anxious and stressed. To the contrary, those who view it with joyful expectation, as a diversion from the serious routine of life, will discover a time shared with others filled with laughter, bonding, a peaceful escape throughout the hours spent together trying to solve the puzzle. Thus, the vision can be shared and the experience enriched by doing so together.
In life there too is the time factor in accomplishing our dreams. When all is well, time is meaningless. Yet we all have our times of waiting and loss…none of us are exempt. We find it difficult to understand why God makes us wait or allows suffering. We may have waited years for a child, the right spouse, the right job or to equip ourselves for a job. We may have suffered the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, a divorce, etc. Those devastating struggles may last for what seems to be an eternity.
The waiting, however, does not need to be unbearable. Do we allow ourselves time to grieve and open up to those around us? Are we angry, unforgiving, or despondent over things that haven’t worked out for us? Or do we forge ahead with perseverance and determination? Do we find the joy and peace of being present in the moment, appreciating what we have rather than lamenting that which we have not yet accomplished? Or are we anxious and fearful for what lies ahead? Do we hold onto the vision…or abandon it? Again, our personal hopes, dreams and, yes, struggles, can and should be shared by others who are capable and eager to lift us up. Those relationships and the experiences shared with them will indeed enrich our lives.
What if we don’t have a clear vision to which we can aspire? What if the box revealing the final image of the puzzle has been lost? In both cases the solution is there in spite of our temporary struggle in finding the solution. Through our belief in knowing we will succeed, we will find our way. We must relax, enjoy the experience, the anticipation, expectation, and the beauty of both the puzzle and life…realizing both were created to fit into place. It is then we will savor the experience.
If you’re in the midst of waiting or going through a loss, have faith in knowing your life story has already been written by the hand of God. For no matter how devastating the circumstances may appear, His story of “you” is one of love and peace. God is walking beside you, guiding you towards the peace that “surpasses all understanding”, and loving you as you seek his will in living the story he has created within you.