These words strike fear into the heart of any serious jigsaw puzzle practitioner. The idea of making a puzzle piece fit even by extreme means seems ridiculous, right? I am a recent convert to the world of jigsaw puzzles. I have only done a few so far. However, it does not take long to feel the frustration level rise when pieces refuse to take residence on the board at my command.
A few months ago, I decided to have a go at my second ever jigsaw puzzle. Immediately and luckily, pieces started falling into place. Eureka!!! My confidence surged, and I fancied myself a natural at reconstructing this art work by reuniting disjointed pieces. Then the stubborn, cantankerous pieces conspired in disobedience, putting an end to my “this isn’t so tough” mentality. As I struggled with one particular piece, my sister said, “If all else fails, just pound it into place.” I knew she, a puzzle worker from a way back, was joking. And we both had a good laugh at the outrageous image this conjured up.
As I worked the puzzle over the next several weeks, her words came back to me on occasion. The humorous statement honestly serves as a deterrent to the frustration one can feel at the jigsaw table. But what is more important, God called me to look at this attitude when trying to find the answers to my own life’s puzzles.
If pieces do not seem to “fit” together in my world, I have the choice to launch into a pound-a-thon until they are as I want them or to take a deep breath, sit back and assess a little bit. The truth is, many life puzzle outcomes are not within my control (what?). Still, I am tempted at times to cut, paste, and hammer life’s parts into spaces I have assigned. It has been my experience this is not a good way to live in general and is particularly difficult when trying to maintain relationships, human or divine.
Although completion of the task (at all costs) may bring a sigh of relief, rarely does this course disclose the picture God intended. When failing to wait for God’s beautifully planned picture, the result can be less than satisfying to say the least. Overriding Him with my impatience can prove disastrous. Working the jigsaw reminds me life can be disjointed and chaotic at times. It is a process of waiting, trying and trusting. Truly I do not have all the information about life’s mysteries. And sometimes I have to step back and resist the temptation to think all is failing and start “pounding things into place.”
This does not mean God will reach down with an unseen holy hand and put the nice, neat little pieces together. No one promised a life without fragmentation or messiness. What it does mean is this. There is no “if all else fails” with God because God never fails. There is no need to cut, paste or pound out my plans. He will supply the answers, give me grace to wait for the right pieces to fit, and sustain me in His peace if some pieces are forever missing.
Copyright August 2011
Laura L. Padgett
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