Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Puzzling Parallel

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’” ~James 4:13-15

Sometimes life is like a puzzle. A 5000 piece puzzle. You know going in that it won’t necessarily be easy, but the picture on the box is so pretty, intriguing, fascinating, whatever, that you just can’t resist the urge to try. Or maybe you've convinced yourself you just like a challenge. Either way, you spend hours comparing the picture on the box (“the way things should be”) with the myriad of jigsaw-cut confetti on the table. You try to find the straight-edged pieces (your “general direction in life") and separate them from the others (the “details”) and finally you get the frame put together – except for that one pesky little corner piece that you decide must be vacationing on a Mediterranean island somewhere.

Giving up on the corner, you begin to fill in the center, still comparing the box with reality, and finally it starts to come together. You plod on, sometimes going long stretches without a fit, other times rejoicing with several fits in succession. As you approach your goal you realize a dozen more pieces are missing. Ah, there are two on the floor under your chair. Eventually you find three more under the sofa, two in the pocket of a pair of pants you haven’t worn in a week, one in the laundry basket, another behind the refrigerator (Who looks behind the refrigerator? Getting a little OCD, are we?), and one in the phone book. The other two continue to elude you. Perhaps they joined their buddy in Sicily, you wonder. You stare at the holes in the picture wondering about how many hours (days, weeks, …) you have invested in this project that just doesn’t seem to be coming together. What a waste.

In walks your child. “Are you done with the puzzle?” he asks with a smile.

“Not quite, honey. There are still three pieces missing.”

The child tears out of the room only to return with a fist full of puzzle pieces, which he plops quickly and precisely into place, obviously with great delight.

“Where did those come from?” you ask in disbelief. “I tore the house apart looking for those.”

“I hid them. I wanted to be the one to put in the last few pieces,” he says with a grin.

In the puzzle of this adventure, I think God was holding on to the last few pieces, waiting for just the right time (i.e., when we finally gave up on our own abilities to accomplish it) to joyfully pop them into place. At last, we are beginning to see His picture a lot more clearly, and it's even better than the one on the box. :-)


  1. That was fun! The children remind me so much of the children in Mali. What kinds of interaction would you expect to have with the children of PNG?

  2. Yeah! Fun, huh? I have no idea how much direct interaction we will have, but they kind of represent the larger picture, since what we will do will support missionaries to people all over PNG. They're cute, huh? :-)


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