“You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence…” Psalm 16:11

The puzzle of life

puzzleThis is an excerpt of the book I am writing and the material I am working on for a conference I am developing.  I’d love to share it with you.

Are you a puzzle person? Have you ever worked a jigsaw puzzle? If so, how did it feel when you first opened the box and saw all of the pieces? Was it exciting? Overwhelming? Did you feel as if you would never be able to figure it out and wonder why you chose that puzzle? Did you want to give up? Maybe it got your blood pumping and you were ready for the challenge.

Did you dump all of the pieces out and begin sorting them? Did you leave them in the box and just take out a few at a time? Some people like to do the border first and then fill in the middle. Others like to sort the pieces out by color or the section of the puzzle they belong to and begin there. Do you have a strategy? Do you go by shape when you are trying to find the right piece or do you look for the color or design? Do you use the photo as your guide or do you try to figure it out on your own?

I like to think of life as a big puzzle made up of a lot of pieces that all fit together and make a beautiful picture in the end. There is a difference though–we don’t have the final picture to go by and sometimes we can’t even figure out what the final picture will look like as we go along.

I’m a visual person and I think in word pictures. I have a visual that I like to think of when I look at my life and remember that God is in control, even when my life doesn’t make sense to me. I imagine God putting together the “puzzle” of each of our lives on a big glass table and we are underneath, looking up. All we see is the brown back of each piece. It doesn’t look like much. There are different shapes, but from our viewpoint we can’t figure out how the pieces are going together or what they represent and we sometimes don’t see the beauty in it.

It may seem like a bunch of random pieces, but can’t you just imagine God as He does it? Can you imagine the smile on his face as He lovingly puts each piece in place and sees the big picture that we aren’t seeing?

Can you visualize it? Can you see Him carefully choosing and placing each piece of your life’s puzzle ever so gently and lovingly? Some of them are your border pieces and they hold the rest of the puzzle in place and set the boundaries. Others are colorful, fun, and beautiful. Does He smile? Does it make Him happy to think of the joy those pieces will bring us? Does He anticipate our reaction and wait expectantly for us to live out that piece?

What about the dark and shadowy pieces–the painful ones or those that aren’t so pretty? How does He look and feel as He places them in, knowing that although they will be painful for us, they are necessary to complete the image that He is making with our life? Do you think he would tell us to just hang on? “Wait patiently, my child. In the end, you will be a beautiful masterpiece. One day you will discover that these will be some of your most beautiful pieces because of who you will become through them”.

If you look at a puzzle, you see dark pieces, light pieces, some with a lot of pattern and color, and then others that are just plain and unimpressive. Alone they don’t seem like much, but together they become an amazingly beautiful and complex image. Maybe you’ve had a section with some bright and beautiful pieces in your life and then suddenly everything seems to go wrong. You may wonder why those pieces are a part of your puzzle. You may never know this side of heaven.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever wondered what God was up to in your life? Have you ever asked, “Why me?” or “Why this?” as you faced the events of your life?

When we look up and see the brown side, it may not seem so encouraging. If only we could see it from God’s perspective! What a sight that must be!

In my own life, I have had many difficult experiences that have made it hard to envision the beautiful picture my life would become in the end. Sorrow. Sadness. Loneliness. John and I have faced some interesting and difficult experiences in our marriage, including the deaths of three of our babies–one through miscarriage, one who died the night he was born and another who was stillborn.  I’m really not sure why we went through what we did.

… to be continued.

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