Life is like a puzzle

I love doing puzzles! What is it about a box full of little cut up pieces of cardboard that creates in me an excitement and a challenge to bring order to the chaos? What is it about puzzle pieces laying on a table that call out to me to put them together? I can spend hours looking for the right pieces and enjoy seeing the picture come together! Very satisfying!

As a puzzler, I find I rarely choose my own puzzles. They seem to be something often given to me as a gift.

As you can see my family knows what I like. They have chosen many puzzles with a similar theme. I love the pictures on these boxes and have enjoyed putting them together. But everyone who has put a puzzle together from the beginning to the end knows some of the challenges involved. And perhaps it is the overcoming of these challenges that brings so much satisfaction.

I have received puzzles that I have never done because I  decided just by looking at the picture on the box lid that I wouldn’t enjoy doing it. An experienced puzzler will be able to see from the picture the ratio of exciting colorful pieces to the boring, mundane pieces. I enjoy puzzles with lots of colors, and lots of details that keep me searching for the different pieces. Those scenic pictures with much sky, tress, water… and their boxes filled with blue, gray, brown, green pieces that all look alike just don’t seem worth my time and effort. How often have I wanted to give up on a puzzle once I ran out of the interesting pieces?

Along with the challenge of boring pieces there are also pieces that are cut the same, or so much so that I put them in the wrong place. Their shape and color are so close that I don’t even realize it. But obviously there is only one correct place for each piece. And if I make a mistake it will catch up with me. I can leave a piece in the wrong place for a long time. But, I won’t be able to fit any other piece until I realize my mistake and remove the wrong one!

And that’s why the box lid of the puzzle is always laying right beside a puzzle in progress. All puzzlers know the importance of having the box lid close by. The picture on the lid gives guidance; it shows the complete picture, the colors, and the details that help to fit the pieces properly.

And so, how do I see life as a puzzle?

First of all, like most of my puzzles, my life has been given to me as a gift. Created in God’s image I had the free will to choose His gift of eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus. By placing my faith in Jesus, I have received a uniquely designed box lid, a picture of my life, that God has created and designed for me. And within the box are the pieces that will form my life; all the exciting, the boring, and the difficult pieces that are intended to come together into the beautiful picture God created.

The only rule in doing a puzzle is to put each piece exactly where it belongs. So, while there is freedom as to which pieces are placed when, there is a strict rule about where. The pieces must be put in just the right place or the entire puzzle will be affected and it won’t look the same as the picture on the lid. It’s interesting that in the freedom I have my usual strategy is to complete the edge first. I look for all the straight edged pieces to complete the boarder. The chaos of a box full of pieces causes me to want to bring some order, some control. Hum, how often I respond the same when my life is in chaos, but I have found that life doesn’t often fit into a nice straight rectangle.

After completing the boarder I’m drawn to the colorful parts of the puzzle. The bright colored pieces and those with unique detail catch my eye. They are easy to spot, are fun to find, and come together quickly. I’m actually somewhat disappointed when I finish them. This too is like my life. I really enjoy the good, fun, and interesting seasons, but like the puzzle they pass too quickly, and when they come to an end I miss them and regret that they are over, never to be experienced in the same way again.

That is when, with almost every puzzle, comes the boring, mundane, but necessary pieces. These pieces are all the same color. They are hard to distinguish from each other. They require a closer look. They slow down my progress. Yet, they have purpose in the big picture. They hold the colorful parts together, and set them off so they are easily seen. So, too, those boring, mundane seasons have their purpose in the big picture of life. The same old thing, day after day; the same job that doesn’t bring fulfillment, the same broken relationship that never improves, those same problems that never get resolved… these boring and seemingly never changing pieces give opportunity to become the very pieces that require me to focus on them more intently. I need to look at them closely, and study them in order to know just where to place them. They are the pieces that cause me to look closer at the box lid, to see God’s perspective of my life. How would He have me to respond to these “same old things?” “God, what changes should I make to find fulfillment in my job?”  “God, show me how to bring reconciliation to the broken relationship.” “God, show me the sin in my heart that is keeping these problems working in my life.”

And once in awhile there are those pieces that are so similar that I put them in the wrong places. The piece looks right, for awhile it seems right, but eventually it becomes evident it’s not right. And so my life has had its share of misplaced pieces. I have been deceived and have believed lies about myself that put a wrong piece into my thinking which left me stuck in shame for years, striving and comparing myself to others. I put in the wrong piece of jealousy and became stuck with a judgmental and critical spirit. I put in pieces of bitterness, grumbling, and complaining and was stuck with pain in my elbow and knee. But, once enough time had gone by and I couldn’t find any other pieces to fit next, I finally took a closer look and realized my mistake. It is as easy as taking out the wrong piece and putting in the right piece that gets me unstuck. And that is what I’ve found true in life. When I realized I was stuck in shame, jealousy, judging, and bitterness it was only a matter of confessing my sin, receiving God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, and replacing it with the truth of what God’s word says! Then I became unstuck! Then I could continue on with the puzzle of my life.

You have been uniquely created by the Master Puzzle Maker and He has given you a gift, a puzzle box filled with pieces; colorful, exciting, boring, mundane, similar and unique, all intended for the two of you to put the pieces together into the beautiful picture He has created of you!

Don’t leave your life in the box believing it is too boring or too difficult; thinking it’s not the picture you would choose.

Don’t look at the box lids of others, wishing you had theirs because they look more interesting and exciting than yours.

And don’t try to do your puzzle on your own, without looking at the correct box lid for guidance.

Pick up your puzzle box, filled with all the pieces of chaos and invite God to come and guide you as you fit all the pieces together to form the beautiful picture He created for you to become!




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