As I was glancing at the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle on my table the other day, I was struck by what I called a “lesson on living in community.” I was focusing both on the pieces that I had already fit into the puzzle and those still needing to have me find their place and I saw a spiritual message here. There are some inspiring similarities between a jigsaw puzzle and ways to look at life itself.
First of all, within the individual pieces of the puzzle there are simple and more unique shapes, bigger and smaller pieces, those of different colors. But in spite of these variations and differences they all are essential and have a certain critical goal in common. Each piece, no matter its characteristics, is needed to develop the full picture that completes the puzzle. Each piece must interlock with its complement and fit well with its “neighbor.” This fitting together is necessary so that each piece can support the other and can successfully develop the picture. Each piece needs the other. One individual piece may not seem too significant, but it is very necessary; it alone fits in a particular place to contribute to the whole. It becomes evident that differences do not hinder the puzzle’s completion; they enhance it. Only when all the pieces work together can we determine the final success of the project.
If you have ever labored at a puzzle you will know that the project demands certain qualities of the person working at it as well. Within the span of many, many hours of labor there are times when things go smoothly and fitting the pieces together successfully is fairly easy. Then the work gives one a feeling of satisfaction. But similarly, there can be times when that is not the case. The work becomes tedious and attempting to find the right piece is challenging. However, there are no words in the directions that say it would be an easy job to put 1000 pieces together. Puzzle lovers know that it is only with patience, determination and hard work that a finished puzzle will eventually happen. That sounds like our lives, pushing through the good times and the challenging, yet ever striving with God’s grace to “make it work.”
Then, there are the times when one has the experience of thinking that a certain piece just has to fit because we think it should, but it doesn’t. No matter how much we attempt to snap it in a place, it just doesn’t fit. Is that piece destined to fit because we want it to? Did the creator of the puzzle make a mistake? Of course we know it’s neither of these and it’s not any other reason except the reality is that piece is not meant for this particular place. But we know it will fit somewhere else. Every piece of the 1000 has a place in contributing to the whole and it will, eventually, work out according to the plan of the creator. In our lives, it is God’s plan!
I found a quote on line that read: “God’s will is like a jigsaw puzzle; until you put all the pieces together you won’t be able to see the whole picture.” Based on this statement let’s take a look at some of those “pieces” in our lives that can assist us to successfully get the whole picture. We ask ourselves:
- How important do we see our connection with others – those of different shapes, colors, sizes? – and accept, even treasure the differences? How much do our physical differences detract from or enhance our relationship with others?
- What does it take for us to better understand and act upon our need for working together and see those around us and those beyond our immediate living as one family of God?
- How determined are we to make others “fit” into the space we have created for them? How willing are we to allow everyone to be themselves, knowing God created them to HIS LIKENESS and not to our plan?
- How well do our words and actions demonstrate our belief that every person has something worthwhile to contribute? How much do we encourage others to bring their gifts and talents into our world?
- Do we see ourselves as brothers and sisters to all God’s people – those in need, those hurting, those who need understanding and tolerance? How much are we willing to exercise patience and understanding and offer help or hold them in our prayers?
Let each of us live with the conviction that “When my life positively strikes against another, only then can it give off its love and help to a needy world.”