Life is a Puzzle
Darlene and Pat Watson
Sisters Darlene and Pat Watson share lessons they learned from one of their favorite pastimes.
A young lady who had just become a Christian and Pat met once a week for several months to study the book of John. She had suffered abuse and neglect much of her life, and they talked about Jesus’ power to heal. Shortly before she moved to another city, Pat asked her how her life had changed since she began her spiritual journey. She replied that God had taken the broken pieces of her life and made her whole.
We two sisters-in-law discovered that renewing our jigsaw puzzle skills provided a way for us to cope with the isolation of COVID-19. As an added benefit, the Holy Spirit stirred our hearts with spiritual insight that correlates with a puzzle. We pray that our collaborative efforts will bless others and will enable them to understand some of the “whys” of their own lives and to help those who are struggling with similar concerns about their spiritual growth.
Initially, we are overwhelmed when we see the myriad of shapes and colors in the big pile of puzzle pieces, and we wonder if this puzzle will be our nemesis. Only when we begin to organize the pieces by color do we see the possibility of success. Our first step is to establish a solid groundwork with the border pieces. In much the same way, we must first establish a spiritual foundation in Jesus Christ. Paul admonishes us that “No one can lay any other foundation besides the one that is already laid, which is Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Only when Jesus is our foundation can God take the scattered pieces of our lives and create something beautiful.
Good lighting is an important factor in putting a puzzle together as it is difficult to see true colors in poor light. To navigate our lives successfully, we must walk in the light. 1 John 1:5 reminds us that “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.” In this light, we can see the broken pieces of our lives and can know that God will put them together to make the perfect picture. This is the light that will illuminate our pathway and guide us safely home.
As we begin to work with different sections of our puzzle, we rely on the picture of the completed art work to keep us on track. This reminds us that God’s Word reveals the big picture of the life we can find as we follow the plan God designs for us. We can rely on biblical truths to put our lives together and to keep us on track. These guidelines are clear and concise. We can, however, become discouraged by our lack of progress, both in working on the puzzle and in our spiritual growth.
Discouragement often makes us want to give up, put the puzzle back in the box, and forget it. When that happens, we need someone, perhaps our partner in the endeavor or just someone who compliments our progress, to encourage us. This is true in our Christian walk. In order to persevere, we need someone to remind us that we are not alone, that God is directing our steps, and that we are making a difference. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 prompts us, “So continue encouraging each other and building each other up.”
Frustration over slow progress may cause us to try to place a puzzle piece where it doesn’t belong. We turn it every possible way to make it work, but it just doesn’t fit. In a similar way, we may spend years trying to find our niche in life, e.g., entering a profession that seems to fit our skills and desires or trying to develop a spiritual gift we admire in others. God has a perfect plan for our lives, and only when we totally surrender our will to that plan will the pieces fit.
We have both experienced getting to the final piece of a puzzle and discovering it doesn’t fit the remaining slot. We have learned to look for a piece that is similar and almost fits where we placed it. When we exchange those two pieces, we discover a perfect fit. Spiritually, we may find ourselves facing a situation where something just doesn’t feel right, perhaps in our work or in a relationship. This is a time when we need to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence” (Proverbs 3:5). The Holy Spirit will guide us back to where the problem started and help us get back on track.
Have you ever completed a puzzle only to discover that a piece is missing? You look everywhere and perhaps conclude that the dog chewed it up or a grandchild hid it somewhere. We believe that many people are like that missing piece. They are lost but don’t know it. Just as we search for a missing piece, God looks for the one who is lost. Jesus’ parables in Luke 15:1-22 point out the value of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. This knowledge gives us great comfort as we pray for a lost spouse, a child, or a friend. Paul reminds us not to tire of doing good, because “in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).
Finally, success! We have accomplished our goal and we look at the finished puzzle with satisfaction. On the day when our spiritual puzzle is complete, our prayer is that, when we meet our Savior face-to-face, we will hear the affirmative words, “Well done! You are a good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
The mentee with whom Pat shared John’s Gospel was in her mid-twenties; Pat had just turned eighty. She is at the beginning of her walk of faith; Pat is much closer to the end. God will continue to add pieces to the periphery of our individual puzzles as we experience heartache, grief, disappointments, and unanswered questions, but we will also be blessed with unexpected joys, simple pleasures, and unfolding insight into God’s Word. What a sweet blessing to assure my friend that God is faithful and that someday our puzzles will be complete.
Darlene Watson is married to Bufford Watson, an elder in their church. She has two children. Darlene has taught many Bible studies through the years at Mission City Church in San Antonio, Texas.
Pat Watson is married to W.T. Watson for 65 years. They have three sons, 11 grandchildren, 8 (soon to be 10) great -grandchildren. She is a retired English and creative writing teacher.