I recently bought a jigsaw puzzle for my daughter, who is four years old. I got it from one of those cheap toy stores you find down dark and crowded lanes in forgotten parts of Wan Chai. The cover was a bit ambiguous but it had a picture of Disney's Frozen on it so I figured I couldn't go wrong. I brought it home, unveiled it to delighted shrieks from my girl, and sat down together to spend some quality daddy-daughter time. As I opened the packaging I realised that the puzzle was way more complicated than I had first thought, far more detailed than what is appropriate for a four-year-old. There were over a hundred pieces, and my daughter quickly began to lose interest as she realised she didn't understand what was going on. Within five minutes she had given up and left, but I stubbornly remained for close to an hour refusing to allow a stupid Frozen puzzle to defeat me. There were many bits that just didn't seem to fit in, and I am ashamed to admit the puzzle eventually got the better of me. My wife had to step in and finish it...
As our fast draws to a close, we have shifted our focus towards preparing our hearts and lives for the future. One of the big hinderances to feeling positive about what is ahead of us are the mistakes or failures we have had in the past. The thing that always speaks loudest to our future is the voice of our past. And when that past has been peppered with tough times, disappointments, or personal tragedy, it can strongly colour our perception of what is ahead. Some of the big questions we can have is what God was doing through it all, where he was in the middle of it, and how it all fits into his purposes and plans for our lives. In many ways it can feel like a giant jigsaw puzzle, knowing that there is a picture God is creating in us, but struggling to see how all the past bits fit together. We are anxious to make something out of our lives, but it can feel overwhelming when we don't see how the pieces work towards God's best. When we are faced with this we often find ourselves, like my daughter, giving up and walking away, or like me stubbornly trying to fit things together and feeling ashamed that we just can't do it. In both cases, we need someone to step in and help us out, like my wife did.
Paul reminds his church, and us, that God is always at work fitting together the complex jigsaw pieces of our lives. No matter what has happened in your past, the Scriptures encourage us that God works together through it all for his good and glory. There are no 'pieces' that are left out. Everything makes up the mosaic of our lives, even when we have no idea how. Your worst moment in your past is simply another piece of your life that God redeems and restores for his purposes, and then places lovingly into the beautiful tapestry of your life. If you take this passage to heart today, it will clear your thinking towards your future. There may well be more moments of struggle and disappointment ahead for you, but you can walk forward into your future with confidence, knowing that not only is God in control but he will take your mess and turn it into a message, your test into a testimony. It's what he does. It's his puzzle, after all.
What are some 'pieces' of your life in the last year that seem to not fit into the picture you believe God is building through you? Maybe take a moment to write some of these down. These are the jigsaw pieces of your life that don't seem to fit. Now give them to God afresh, thanking him that he is in control and that he works all things together for his good. Ask him to complete the picture for you.
Father, as I look into my future, I do so with hope and positive expectation because I know you work all things together for your glory and good. Take the things of my past and make them part of the fabric of glory I can give to you today. I love you. Amen.