My boss brought a puzzle into our office the other day. We haven’t had a whole lot going on in our office lately, we’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern, so she thought it would be a fun thing to complete during breaks and lunch time. The puzzle is a beautiful Van Gough painting of a terra cotta vase with flowers. The entire thing is in muted orange, green, gray and red tones. So, as you can imagine, it was really hard to put together!
We’ve spent hours piecing together the intricate design of the puzzle. Its been frustrating and I’ve wanted to give up several times. I’d find myself trying to force pieces of the puzzle into places they didn’t fit. I’d convince myself that they fit, only to have to take apart that section later when the picture would not come together. I even joked with my boss that I wanted to go buy an easier puzzle at Wal-mart and put it together instead. That way I didn’t ‘give up’ on the first puzzle, I just moved on to the next project. But, even though the puzzle was frustrating and confusing, the futher along we got in piecing it together, the more beautiful it became. Each individual flower, the delicate strokes of the vase, and the mint green background of the painting all came together to form a beautiful piece of art in puzzle form.
The puzzle reminds me of our lives as Christians. Walking with the Lord is easily compared to a puzzle. Each small piece goes together perfectly to form the big picture of our lives. God made the puzzle and knows the big picture. He knows where each small piece goes. I know God can put each person’s life puzzle together without our help, but I think ‘active waiting’ is what He desires for us. My Pastor, Louie Giglio, talked about this two Sundays ago. He made reference to Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”. Louie went on to talk more about the context of this verse. Verse 3 says “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” Verse 7 says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. This passage in context is essentially saying ‘wait with God’, do good while waiting. Don’t sit in the arm chair of life, staring at the pieces of the puzzle, asking God to come in and save the day. But we also can’t snatch away the pieces of our puzzle and try to piece them together. We must wait with God, work with God, and He will come through.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at the waiting game. I often get frustrated and confused at the direction of my life. I struggle with having faith in God’s plan and timing and frequently find myself looking for the next thing to come. 2012 has been an especially difficult year in the terms of my life ‘puzzle’. My husband and I have faced spiritual struggles, job loss, financial insecurity, and broken vehicles- just to name a few of the stressors. We’ve questioned God’s plans for our lives both separately and together. My prayer has often been pretty whiny “Lord, if you have big plans, why are you letting this happen? We were going to pay off half our debt this year. We were planning on serving you in bigger ways. Why did you mess up our plans?”
The key word there is ‘OUR’. I had a plan, I had it all figured out. I wanted to put my life puzzle together without God’s help. It would be comparable to trying to put together a 1000 piece puzzle without having the picture on the box. The Lord said “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He made our life puzzle and wants to put it together with us. I just have to relinquish control and allow Him to guide the process. He knows the big picture, He has the master plan.
So the next time you sit down to put together a complicated puzzle, think about Jesus. Think about the big plans He has for you and the fantastic adventures He has in store. If two pieces fit together perfectly, think about the times that God has revealed to you a piece of the big picture of your life or when His provision has come through in incredible ways. When you try to force a piece in the wrong place, think about the lessons you’ve learned when you’ve tried to do things your own way. And as the big picture of the puzzle you’re building comes together, it’ll make you smile to think about how God is putting together the puzzle of your life each and every day.