Missing Puzzle Pieces
Sep 18, 2016 01:34PM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
We are huge Doctor Who fans in my house. Obsessed is probably a better word. So when I saw a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that had an exploding TARDIS on it, I knew that would be a lovely way to get my peace on in the next few weeks. I was counting on my family joining in and sorting all the shades of yellow and blue with me, but after putting the edges together, they found the task too intimidating and abandoned my puzzle table.
I have a hard time walking away from a challenge. Even though it was incredibly difficult in the beginning to find matches for the interior pieces of the puzzle, I was determined to put a certain number of pieces in place before walking away each evening. After making a deadline for a client whose book I’m publishing next week, I celebrated with two hours of puzzling. Alone. From 10 PM to midnight.
The more I tried to force pieces into the wrong places or find one to no avail, the more I considered the missing pieces in my own life: the places where I tried to force an answer or resolution of my own when it simply didn’t fit.
Why was that?
Sometimes, it would appear as if its angles could match up if I simply turned it this way or that, but one point just would not cooperate and lay flat.
At other times, what looked like it belonged in the center was really a part of the periphery.
And still other pieces could not be found until toward the very end of completion. No matter how much I wanted that gaping hole in the middle of the yellow section to be complete, it wasn’t going to happen until my brain did the abstract work to notice the piece that belonged there.
Do you ever feel this way about your relationships?
- Why can’t this person solve my problems the way I need them to right now?
- Why can’t they be available?
- Why doesn’t that person answer me?
- Where is that special someone? I want to be married. It’s my time. I’ve waited long enough. I think it should be this person, but they don’t see me that way. (Or I want it to be this person, but they mistreat me.)
- Why can’t the school get on board with what I’m trying to communicate right now?
- Why doesn’t my boss receive my ideas?
- I need a job. Why am I not getting any interviews?
- Am I going to be able to take that trip I’ve been saving for?
- How am I going to get to work?
- I really don’t understand what God is doing there. When is He going to get around to answering me?
- How long do I have to wait to be healed of this?
- Will I ever have a baby?
- Why is God not changing her heart?
- Will my teenager ever make good choices?
I think we want answers from the great Puzzle Solver in the sky, but we also forget that He alone sets them into place. David reminds us that God was first the Puzzle Maker. The same God who created the universe is also very much aware of us.
Not only that, He gave us an important role.
Psalm 8:3-9, ESV, David speaking
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
I’m thinking that if He can put all of this into place, He might have a bit more wisdom about the timing and connections in our lives than we have.
That sure is so nice to read, but what about when those troubling questions, problems, and unfulfilled dreams settle into our hearts and take up residence? What then?
I don’t know about you, but if I get quiet and really reflect on different seasons in my life when I simply could not understand why certain people did not step up to the plate when I thought they should, I find other pieces He laid into place that fit perfectly. Not having the wrong piece made room for the right one. If you struggle to understand why you can’t activate people in your life like a video game avatar, think about how misplaced they would be in a spot God designed for someone else. Instead of smooth edges interlocking, the ongoing friction created by a misplaced piece could have long-term unpleasant effects. We want God’s assigned people in our personal dramas, don’t we?
And what about solving our own problems when God “takes too long”? Well, that goes back to the friction issue. Israel grew tired of waiting on Moses to stop talking with God and come back down the mountain, so they asked Aaron to create a golden calf to worship. That was not God’s solution. They put a fake god in the shape of a cow piece where only God should be. The result was disastrous.
Exodus 32:20,35, ESV, Moses narrating
He [Moses] took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it…
…Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.
Maybe the hardest place of trust is when it involves our hopes and dreams not being answered with the pieces we thought should fit there. It is very difficult to wait on healing—and not receive it. When it comes to people we love, it can be even harder.
But we didn’t shape the design or picture we are in. As David said in his Psalm, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” We are also pieces waiting to be placed in different scenarios, and when we yield to God’s plan, we eventually come to completion.
Philippians 1:6, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Some of our pieces will only snap into place later in our lives and in our waiting. We should ask ourselves if we want our poorly fitted answer now or God’s perfect one later?
Where can you trust this promise more in your life this week? Which piece is hardest for you to let God fill in according to His own timeline and will?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.