I was given a puzzle for a Pollyanna from a co-worker of mine, it had 1,500 pieces. I haven’t put together a puzzle since I was a kid. Isn’t it funny how we stop doing certain things when we grow up: puzzles, coloring, G.I. Joe, Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal, building tree houses. Things that brought us so much joy as a child, we stop doing when we reach a certain age – it’s a shame, isn’t it? I must admit, I really enjoyed the puzzle.
Although very frustrating at tymes, it was a challenge. Each tyme I found a piece that fit, it was extremely rewarding. Have you ever realized how many similarities there are between puzzles and life? In a puzzle each piece plays such an important part in the big picture. In life, it’s people and events who play the important parts. As with pieces in a puzzle, each of us are unique, special in our own way. Although we may appear similar, there are no two alike. Ironically it’s our differences that make us fit.
The journey to live in faith is similar to solving a puzzle. Each action we take is similar to the individual piece of a puzzle. The way we think, talk, act at home, do the job at our workplace, and serve at church are all like the pieces of a puzzle. Only when all the puzzle pieces work together can they create a harmonious whole. In the same vein, all of us living in faith are like pieces of a puzzle, and all the churches on this earth are also like pieces of a puzzle. All of the puzzle pieces need to be in sync in order to create a complete picture. A picture of God’s kingdom is what all the puzzle pieces must work together to create.
Puzzles can be confusing. Puzzles can be frustrating. Puzzles can be rewarding.
While I was working on this puzzle, there was one piece that I was sure belonged in this particular spot. But it didn’t fit. I just kept going back to it and trying to make it fit, forgetting that I tried it already. I guess I had my mind set on the fact that I felt it belonged there. I thought about how many tymes I’ve done that in my life. Tried to make things happen that just weren’t meant to be. I’d try over and over again even to the point of forcing it – but it wasn’t meant to be… and nothing I did changed that. Have you ever tried to put a puzzle piece in the wrong place? It can be done, trust me I have done it but the results are less than spectacular. There is a right place and right fit for every piece!
If you do many puzzles, you’ll know what it’s like to spend so much tyme looking for one specific piece. I thought I knew what it looked like, it seemed so obvious… but I couldn’t find it. I got so wrapped up into finding that one piece that I couldn’t see beyond it. I got frustrated and decided to let it go and step away from it for a while. When I came back to it later, I found it immediately. It was right in front of me all along.
Life has been like that for me sometymes. I try so hard to understand why things happen the way they do. I search high and low for the answers and sometymes the answers are right in front of me.
It isn’t until I stop, take a step back, breathe and let it go – that the answers find me. As I sat there looking at the pieces in this puzzle, I started thinking about the “pieces” in my life: my family, my friends, events, milestones and celebrations. There’s such a mixture of good and bad, joy and tears, happiness and sorrow.
I thought about all those pieces that I didn’t feel were important or had purpose. I reflected on all those pieces in my life that caused me to ask why… “Why me, God?” “Why this?” I suddenly realized that it was because of those pieces that other pieces were able to fall into place.
Everything in our lives happens for a reason. Each event, whether good or bad, signifies a piece of the puzzle. You take away one piece and it upsets the entire harmony of the finished product. I finally understand that even though some of the pieces in my life aren’t pleasant and many of them bring me pain and heartache, without them I couldn’t move on. No matter how unimportant I think they are, they bring me one step closer to wholeness.
What does this have to do with church? The church is much like a puzzle that Jesus puts together for the benefit of the world. Paul describes the church in a similar way in Romans 12.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:3-8
Every piece of the puzzle matters (v. 3)
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Every piece of the puzzle is vitally important. When one piece is missing the puzzle cannot be complete. The same is true of the church, when you are missing the church cannot be complete. When you make the decision to not be involved, you are taking a piece out of God’s puzzle. No piece of the puzzle is any more or less important than any other. The church is the same way; no person here is any more or less important than any other. Everyone has value.
Every piece of the puzzle is unique (v. 4, 6)
Just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not all have the same function
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Many pieces of the puzzle may look the same but when examined they are all different. No two pieces of the puzzle are the same. Every piece has a different shape.
Every piece of the puzzle has a place (v. 5) so in Christ we who are many form one body.
How do we get into the puzzle?
Remember that you are important to the church. No matter who you are or what you do, you are important to the life of this church. There is no way that I can over stress this fact. Realize that we cannot accomplish God’s plan without you. God has given you special gifts and abilities like no one else and only you can fill the place that God has for you. Recognize that God made you to fill a special place within the church. All of us have been graced by God with different gifts but the expectation is the same. The gifts that you have are to be used for the benefit of the body.
We can’t possibly look at the pieces of our lives right now and understand the important role that each one of them plays, there are too many holes and the picture isn’t clear. But I know that when my journey in this life comes to an end, and that final piece is put into place, I’m going to look back and understand. I’ll no longer wonder why there was so much pain, or why certain people came and went in my life. And I’ll be able to see the complete picture and the beauty that went into each piece that made it whole.
Until then, I will continue to live on in faith. Knowing and trusting that all the pieces that I need are there and that it only takes a matter of tyme before they fall into place. Remembering that there is a big picture, a plan for me, that I’m unable to see right now. Believing that each piece of my life, even the painful ones, have purpose and play an important role. And when I’m weak, I will seek strength through prayer. I do all this in hopes that on that glorious day, when Gods masterpiece of me is finally complete, He will then whisper… “Well done!”