Jigsaw Puzzles

Do you enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles? Do you like easy ones or hard ones? Ones with 300 pieces or ones with 2,000 pieces? Big puzzles, little puzzles, shaped puzzles, 3-D puzzles. As I was writing today, it occurred to me that living life is a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Each piece has to fit “just so”, and you really don’t see the final picture until the last piece is in!

While I was stowed away in subzero temps and snowdrifts everywhere recently, we spent some time putting together the single most difficult jigsaw puzzle that I have ever done! Now, I have to honestly say that I prefer easy puzzles! I like designs I can see, pieces that easily fit, and something I can put together because it’s relaxing and fun. I do not enjoy hard, challenging puzzles. I do not look forward to putting together difficult puzzles that take great amounts of concentration and make me go cross-eyed! I don’t like to have 89 pieces the same color with slightly varying shapes that all look like they could go into the same place! And I especially don’t like huge amounts of detail where the piece only needs a “dot” of red!

Doing this puzzle did provide enormous satisfaction when it was finally completed, though! Mostly the fulfillment came from the fact that I never thought we would be able to complete it! And then I began to think that this is a lot like life. By now, you may bethinking I’ve been cloistered in the woods too long! But let’s unpack this a bit.

To complete a jigsaw puzzle, we must first find the corner pieces. Those can be the foundations: where were we born, what was our family of origin like, when were we born, what was our faith background. Second, we must find all the edge pieces: our education, our experiences growing up, our skills and abilities, our family, and all the other things that provide the framework for our life’s journey. And, finally, we begin to sort and fill in the central part of the picture.

Our lives are made up of many pieces and parts.  No one piece of either a puzzle or our life is especially significant in and of itself. It’s how the piece fits into the puzzle that gives it significance. Have you ever finished a puzzle and found that the last piece is missing? What a frustration! Typically, we begin to search under the table, in the box, on the floor, even under the rugs! That one piece suddenly takes on great importance.

Every piece of life shapes who I eventually become. If any one piece of my preparation were to be missing, I would not be fully equipped to accomplish what God still has laid out for me to do. Every single bit of preparation that God has poured into me takes on new significance when the entire picture begins to come together. In my 20s and 30s, life was still forming the edges of the picture. However, from the vantage point of age and time, I now begin to understand many of the why’s, and I am beginning to get glimpses of the finished picture.

One of the pieces of my life that was extremely difficult was to have Dave go to be with the Lord and leave me here to finish my journey without him. As you probably know, it’s much easier to have two people trying to put together a puzzle than to do it by yourself. The same is true with the puzzle of life. It was  very challenging to figure out exactly where this piece fit. As I’ve processed and prayed much about it, I can see that I would not be able to speak into the lives of hundreds of widows if I hadn’t experienced that loss myself. In this case, it truly takes one to know one! I would not have chosen for this particular piece to be part of my puzzle of life, but I can see that it is an essential part of the whole picture! If that piece was missing, the entire picture would not be complete.

As you look back over your life, can you find the corner pieces? Are all the edge pieces there? And do you begin to see the picture taking place as you fill in all the center pieces? Each one contributes something to the whole – even if it’s only a small red dot on a tiny corner! Without that piece your picture will never be complete.

In the same way, losing your husband has helped to shape you into who you are today. What that will look like depends largely on how you respond to the loss. Let me encourage you to ask the Father how this piece fits into His larger plan for your life. In God’s economy, absolutely nothing is wasted!

Romans 8:28 says this: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Even this, Lord? Yes, even this! He is busy conforming us to the image of Jesus, shaping us into something far beyond our comprehension. Someday, the final piece will be in place, and we will see what the plan was from the very beginning! Be encouraged! Your final picture is taking shape even now!

As always, your comments are welcome, or you can email me at sheryl@freshhope.us. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog and share it with your friends who would be encouraged by it.



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