Over Christmas break I got a hankering to work a puzzle again. Which worked out well, because a couple of years ago I bought a Christmas puzzle on clearance, put it in the closet, and forgot about it! So I pulled it out, set it up on the coffee table and went to work.
I didn’t get much help, but that was ok. It gave me something to do while watching Christmas movies or football or basketball games with the family. And besides giving my brain (and my patience!) a workout, it gave me a life illustration as well.
You see, this particular puzzle provided some unusual challenges. First, the edges were not square, so very often I piece that was a edge didn’t at first appear to be one, which led to issues getting the boundaries worked out. Once I got those issues settled, things clipped along at a pretty good pace. Until there were about 50 pieces left. All almost the same color. Almost the same shape. I got down to 5 and got even more flustered. Those pieces refused to fit in the remaining spaces! I was convinced I’d bought a lemon and would have to leave the puzzle unfinished. Have I mentioned how much I hate “unfinished?”
So I looked more closely. Two, then three pieces, that at first glance appeared to be the perfect fit weren’t. A slight variation in shading. A barely perceptible line just off balance. I pulled out the off-kilter pieces and substituted the ones that had refused to fit in the remaining spaces. Suddenly the last few pieces slid into the place and the picture was complete.
The experience made me wonder: how many times in life do I think I have a piece in the right place, but it’s not? I didn’t force it there. At a passing glance all the colors match. But upon closer examination the piece is in the wrong place. And leaving it there will make the picture incomplete. Prying up a locked-in puzzle piece isn’t easy. Sometimes it scatters the correct pieces around it and requires some re-assembly. But whether in life or puzzles, it’s worth the minute scrutiny, the extra work, to see the picture completed.
My prayer this year? Lord, help me to recognize my pieces that aren’t in quite the right places. Give me the willingness to pull them up and re-arrange so that You can continue to complete the picture You created my life to be.