Picture This: Putting the Pieces Together

photoAmong our many Christmas decorations is a box containing a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  The puzzle picture is an illustration of about 32 nearly-but-not-quite-identical Santa Clauses, all with slight variations of tiny toys and gifts. I don’t remember when we got this puzzle–probably as an overly ambitious challenge for our kids back when they routinely did puzzles.  (Smaller puzzles, with less pieces and more clearly defined illustrations.)

For some reason, I have for ages been setting this box out on the coffee table at Christmas each year, where it usually goes untouched until the decorations are packed up again.  Perhaps it’s just that there’s something nostalgic about the idea of a jigsaw puzzle in progress, a nod to a leisure summer time when families worked on them together in the long evenings (no doubt between playing checkers and catching fireflies).  It is, however, not something our family typically does either then or now but this year was different.  While our grown children were home for the holidays, our son opened the box.

Have you looked at anything lately that was broken up in 1,000 small pieces?  It is a daunting sight, to say the least, and pretty darn discouraging.  Our kids, however, decided to give it a shot and started working on the frame.


I had forgotten that finer point of puzzle construction: you pull out all the pieces with one straight side, build the frame, and then the interior sorta grows.

Except, in this case, when the outer frame was done there was still a HUGE pile of tiny red and white Santa pieces.

But our kids intrepidly carried on.  I would occasionally wander over, breathe a mental “OMG!” and pick up a random piece on the pretense of helping.  Invariably, one of the experts would eventually say, “Mom, hand it over.  That piece fits over here.”  And so it did.


And bit by bit, one by one, the Santas began to materialize.


This got me thinking about the number of times I have put off attempting something, not because it was particularly hard but because it looked like it would just take SO much time.  Just too much trouble.  Too exhausting to even consider.

I wondered how often we do the same thing in our churches and communities?  There is so much good we could do but some projects look like just too big an investment of time and energy.  We say we don’t have the resources but I wonder if that’s really the case.  Maybe God’s already put everything there that we need.  We just don’t see it because the picture is jumbled up in 1,000 little pieces.  The person who finally lifts the lid off that puzzle box and starts digging out all those frame pieces generally will find the necessary resources as he or she moves ahead.  And when those pieces start fitting together and the bigger picture starts to appear……amazing things happen!


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