I hate puzzles.
Shocking confession, I know.
There’s one thing you need to know about me before I expound, and that’s that I married up.
My wife is an amazing person and honestly, she’s perfect.
But there is that one verse in the Bible where it says “ALL have sinned”, so God has to give her some flaw.
It was puzzles.
She loves them and I think I’m on the theological high ground when I say, they’re just evil.
I may be stressing the point a little but the point is my mind doesn’t work like hers and what is enjoyable for her is hard work for me.
I think my problem is I want to see the bigger picture and when you work on a puzzle that is thousands of pieces sometimes you just have to go one piece at a time.
Even when it doesn’t make sense or the picture hasn’t become totally clear yet or it seems like it’s out of place.
The other reason why I might hate puzzles is because of a traumatic childhood experience.
I can remember once working on a puzzle with our family and it was far more frustrating than normal.
Pieces were going together but how what we had before us would result in the end product we had on the box was a mystery.
The puzzle and the picture just didn’t match up.
When we had finished the puzzle, and even before than, we realized the picture on the box wasn’t of the puzzle we put together.
The source of our frustration was that we were focused on the wrong picture.
Can I be honest?
I don’t care this much about puzzles.
But I feel the same way in my life a lot of times.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in ministry you have probably bumped up against situations that break your heart. Cases where you find out a marriage is collapsing because of infidelity, a diagnosis has come back terminal, a child has suffered abuse.
Those can rock you to your core.
Truth is sometimes it’s not the ministry side it’s just life. Something happens that isn’t ministry related, it’s personal.
You get the diagnosis.
You lose someone you loved.
And the pieces don’t fit.
The picture doesn’t match the box and you feel broken.
This past year I’ve had to explain some hard things to our kids.
And it’s resulted in a lot of hard and humbling conversations. The hardest I think are when my daughter asks me questions and the only real answer I can give her is; “I don’t know”.
We’ve taught and continue to teach our daughter that the God who takes care of the birds will take care of her.
But when she asks why God didn’t heal someone or help them when we prayed for it, the answer I have to give is, I don’t know.
Because I don’t.
That doesn’t mean I give up though. See the puzzle was frustrating because I trust my powers of observation. And they told me that the pieces don’t fit and that it shouldn’t go together like that.
What I didn’t know was the the creator of the puzzle had a different image in mind than I had before me.
The truth is life doesn’t come with a picture on the box.
And when I go to put these broken pieces together they don’t seem to fit or make sense or work with the image in my mind.
So either one of two things is true.
My powers of observation and logic are infallible.
Or I’m looking at the wrong picture.
Now, if I’m honest, I know me.
Remember when I said I married up?
I’m not infallible.
I think most people would have a similar assessment of themselves.
So if I’m looking at the wrong picture, (in fact, I would argue this side of eternity I’ll never have the complete picture) what am I supposed to do when the pieces don’t seem to make sense together?
This one I learned from my wife.
I think you have to find the next right piece.
Not the next 5, or 10, or 20.
Just the next 1 right piece.
That might be mourning the one you lost.
That might be praying to one day be able to forgive.
That might be setting the next doctors appointment.
It might just be trying to have one “normal” day or morning or hour.
I think sometimes continuing to find the next right piece helps us to trust the Creator who is putting the puzzle together.