My aunt has several wooden jigsaw puzzles made by ELMS Puzzles. It’s tradition to work on these puzzles when we get together. More recently, I’ve had the privilege of bringing home a few of them each time I visit so I can work on them at my leisure. These puzzles intrigue me for several reasons: they are made with quality mahogany plywood, the craftsmanship is phenomenal, and each piece is individually and uniquely hand cut. Yet, my favorite reason is that the box cover has no picture. I don’t know what I’m bringing home, except that the puzzle’s name gives a hint of what’s inside. Usually I’ll open the boxes to see if the colors look interesting enough to captivate my attention. This is not always the best way to choose though, because some of the least colorful pieces when in the box are the most beautiful or impressive once put together.
If our daughter, Jessica, knows I’ve brought home a new puzzle, she comes to work on it with me. Getting started is usually a little tricky because often the outside edge is not straight. To throw us off even more, some of the internal pieces have straight edges. Consequently, we must begin with similarities like colors, objects, or patterns. When several of us are working on a puzzle together, we joke with Jessica that she always takes the easy part. She doesn’t, but she has an eye for seeing what goes together and usually makes quick progress. She’s also good at recognizing when the small sections we have completed fit together.
In the beginning it is impossible to know what the end will reveal, especially without a photo on the box cover. As we put it together, piece by piece, it begins to take shape and we have a better idea of what the end will eventually look like. But even then, sometimes it surprises us!
As we know with puzzle pieces, there is no set order for putting them together and the proper place for some key pieces might not be found right away. When I think about completing a puzzle, I cannot help but think about life itself. Our Maker carefully handcrafted each piece. He knows our tomorrows and sees the finished picture today. Yet, He leaves us to put it together. To live it out. To find beauty and purpose in the process along the way. There are times when we can’t seem to find the piece we are looking for. Sometimes we try to make pieces fit where they don’t go. When we try too hard to make something fit in the wrong place – even if it seems right at the time – it can mar the piece and hinder our progress. Maybe the timing wasn’t right or our misguided placement left scars that now follow us as we try to make sense of our journey. Remember, we don’t have a picture of the complete course; we have to find our way one piece at a time.
I’m thankful we have God’s Word to instruct us and His Spirit to guide us into His will for our lives. Even so, not everything is cut and dried. We have to make choices along the way. God has given us a free will, yet He also gave us of His Spirit to help us see more clearly, to see beyond this moment and to believe that He’s making a beautiful picture of each one of us. When we allow Him to direct, the pieces fall into place more easily and we are often protected from making poor choices.
Furthermore, sometimes we simply have to trust that things will fall into place in His timing and not necessarily ours. So let’s build—line upon line, precept upon precept—and watch how God reveals what was in our box all along.
Autumn Radiance by Sam Timm
This is a perfect example of a puzzle not looking like much in the box but fantastic when put together.
The painting is impressive too!
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