Anyway, in the 21st century we don't have to have our jigsaw puzzles taking up space on a card table or dining room table or anywhere else for that matter, because we have these things called smart phones and tablets where we can pick up our jigsaw puzzles and take them with us wherever we go, never being afraid of brushing a piece on the floor or losing space in our living rooms while our card tables take up space. So that's why I'm doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles lately.
And I'm thinking.
I'm thinking about my technique, taught by Grandma, of first finding all the edge pieces and putting the "frame" together first. I can't start a puzzle any other way except to put the frame together first. Some can just jump in and put pieces together, but I have to have a frame to fill in. A frame gives me context. A frame gives me a starting point. If I were to just start with any piece, and I have tried to do this, really, to step out of my self-inflicted ritual, but always find myself needing the context, needing the framework first so then I can start with the inside pieces, the guts of the puzzle.
So that's how I start these electronic puzzles too. The outside edges first.
When a puzzle is laid out in front of me, the pieces in a pile, I can be overwhelmed trying to envision that pile of mismatched color ever becoming the picture on the front of the box, as my Grandma used to have standing up on the edge of her card table, or the picture that I can return to with just a click of my finger on a button on my iToy.
As I've been working these puzzles I've been thinking.
I've been thinking how one piece can seem so irrelevant by itself but when I finally find its home among the sky portion, or the mountain landscape, or the ocean's waves, it makes the whole section and ultimately the entire puzzle tell a story.
When that one piece is missing or that one section is incomplete and all the other pieces have connected and found their places in the picture, the end result is disappointing.
Remember searching and searching the floor, inside the box, under the furniture looking for that last, lost piece? The picture wasn't complete without piece one thousand, even though nine hundred and ninety nine pieces were connected and made a part of the picture. Even when looking at the "completed" puzzle, all of the sky in place, or the ocean, or the building intact, that one little piece that is missing is a distraction to the beauty of the finished, albeit, slightly incomplete puzzle.
I think our lives on earth are like that. Without Christ in our life, in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls, our existence is like that pile of puzzle pieces waiting to be put together. We can tell ourselves that we're a good person, that we have meaning and purpose, but without Christ putting our life puzzle together we are incomplete. We are missing piece nine hundred ninety nine out of one thousand pieces. When he saves us, when he makes us his child, when he opens our eyes to the truth of who he is and who we are with him and without him, those scattered mismatched pieces of our lives begin to make sense.
When I look at one piece of my life, one regret or one sin or one loss or one sadness, all I'm seeing in that piece is the shade of the color or perhaps the small line that will give a fence definition, and without the other pieces of the puzzle connecting to it, the piece doesn't make sense.
But as one piece connects to another and soon the sky is formed or the flower is recognized or the building's door is complete, soon the big picture comes into focus. It does make sense that this piece with a line across the middle is part of this fence that surrounds a lovely garden.
When I start to look at the pieces of my life, the loss, the regrets, sadness, the joys, the challenges, and I see them fitting into the Framer's hands I see the value of the seemingly insignificant pieces. The pieces I wish didn't make up the Big Picture of my life now have a purpose. They now connect to another significant piece of my life. They connect to the outer edges. The outer edges of my life's incomplete puzzle have already been framed.
I don't have to wonder how in the world this piece of the puzzle is ever going to fit in the big picture because I know that eventually it will fit. It will make sense. It will be the piece that is needed to make the picture clear. The beauty of the big picture will be seen. As the pieces of my life's choices and things that have happened to me get pieced together, God is seeing the beauty of the completed work. He already knows how it's all supposed to look when it's done.
When one of the pieces doesn't seem to fit or make sense or have purpose - "maybe this piece is from another puzzle" - God is holding that piece in his hand for just the right time to connect it to its puzzle mate. There is another piece, at least one, but maybe three or four, that need to be joined with the one that doesn't make sense. It has a specific place in the big picture, surrounded by other specific pieces of the big picture.
We are being made complete, restored to what the Framer intended all along. Our pieces, which once were just a pile of mismatched color and lines are now made into something that will be complete and without connecting lines. It will all make sense. Just you wait and see. Let God put your pieces together. Don't try to force a piece that doesn't fit, even though it looks like it should, let God make the piece fit into your big picture. He's got the finished picture, sitting beside him, seeing how the pieces of your life, many of them seemingly without color, without definition, without purpose, will connect to make a beautiful masterpiece, full of color and purpose and connection.