But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 ESV
Over the first few weeks of our lockdown my wife and I spent several days putting together a 500 piece puzzle. It was one of the hardest we had ever done because of the weird shapes of the pieces. Finally after 6 days it seemed as if we we were about to complete it when we sadly realized that it was missing 2 pieces! Looking back I can laugh but it reminds me that my life also has some missing pieces – like the answers to questions “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” and “What am I doing about that today?”
For each of us the answers are as different as the parts of our puzzle. Paul’s great way of answering that question for himself was rooted in his both faith and his determination to accomplish what God had called for him to do. Paul chose to leave behind his privileged life and no matter the cost take the journey God had chosen for him. The key to Paul’s clear thinking was that no one’s opinion mattered except the Lord’s. Now of course very few of us are called to leadership like Paul was, but all of us are shaped by God for our own moment in history. Our most important conversation today must be with Him. The good news for all of us is that He has promised to show us the way and how to fit the final pieces into our own life’s puzzle!
When the puzzle was almost together we noticed something missing…. It was the final piece! Ten minutes of searching yielded our prize which had discovered a hiding place under the table! But our victory was short lived because surprisingly even though there was only one open space left the piece we found didn’t fit!
That is when my wife’s sharp eyes picked out the problem. One of the other puzzle pieces had taken its place. The same is also true in the church. Two bad things happen when we try to be something we are not. The place God chose for us remains empty and we also steal the spot that God designed someone else to fill!
Let God fit you in where you belong and the puzzle will show the world the face of Jesus Christ!
Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:19-20
While I was out on my Saturday morning walk, I stopped at a neighborhood yard-sale. Usually I try to avoid picking up other people’s junk (or treasure) but I was intrigued by a 1,000 piece puzzle that reminded me a bit of a Thomas Kincaid painting. After returning home with it, I carefully taped together a cardboard piece big enough so I could move the puzzle around and then excitedly dumped out the pieces. First I assembled
the edges and then grouped the rest of the pieces by color. But as I worked I discovered that I had a serious problem. The puzzle pieces were not from the puzzle displayed on the box!
Joseph’s life must have seemed a lot like my puzzle. His dreams of greatness and success must have seemed far off during his years of slavery and jail. Have you ever felt that way? My own hopes and dreams; like the photo on the box-top are decidedly different from the jumble of the pieces of my life. Some days or even years it feels as if nothing fits together no matter how hard I try.
But rather than give up I determined to find out just what kind of picture I would see if I kept at it. So as I worked piece by piece I began to see a cottage very different from the one on the box and yet still breathtaking in its complexity and beauty.
That is how the Christian life is. Our puzzle box dilemma is not an accident. On the outside things are never as they appear. God has chosen for us to walk by faith just like Joseph. When we trust God no matter what we see; it frees us from the tyranny of expectations; both our own and those of others. Faith frees us to forgive and then live in confidence that whatever the final picture looks like; it has been designed by God. As we trust Him to fit together the pieces we will little by little begin to see and a perfect reflection of His love for us all!