One of the activities our family likes, probably more than we realize, is doing puzzles. I guess the fun of working through them has always been there, but we go through periods of time when it wouldn’t seem so. Recently, during a trip to Estes Park, Colorado with my wife to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we were joined by our mentors. While just hanging out with them is a blessing (and entertainment) enough, there was a pretty imposing 1,500-piece puzzle at the house we were staying at that looked challenging enough that we were willing to take it on.
I don’t know if you’ve ever taken on a 1,500-piece puzzle (before then, I hadn’t) but it’s quite time consuming and intense, especially for someone as competitive as me. We spent the better part of three-plus days painstakingly working on a complex photo we were trying to recreate. Each of us took on relatively different roles at different times, sometimes taking a singular piece and trying to ascertain its position based on matching it up to the picture on the box. The joy of getting more and more of the image recreated on the table with all the pieces coming together grows nearly exponentially, particularly after three-plus days, late nights, and times when you near futility.
You get down to the short strokes. You can clearly see that you’re a mere few steps … single-digit pieces … away from being complete. If you’re like me, you start to do a little cocky victory dance. And then … you realize, as we did, that you’re missing the last piece. Incredulously, you look everywhere. On the table, under the box (both the top and the bottom), on the floor, on the chairs, in your pockets, heck … even outside! Nonetheless you realize, in a crestfallen way, that you’re missing that last piece. It’s incredibly frustrating and exasperating.
Here’s the application … without that last piece, the puzzle is incomplete. You have a clear sense it depicts the overall image, but it’s not complete. It’s missing the final piece. Even if you had another puzzle piece you couldn’t use it to fill the hole. Not just any puzzle piece will do; it needs to be the puzzle piece that was designed and destined to be there. Just because it’s a puzzle piece doesn’t mean it’s THE puzzle piece.
It’s a lot like life …
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
You see, we are designed to be complete. Our physical, mental, and emotional existence is often what most of us consider to be the totality of ourselves. But the Bible clearly teaches us that we are designed with eternity in our hearts. Like the lyrics from a song I remember from perhaps 20 years ago, “there’s a God-shaped hole in all of us.” We are designed with the recognition that a key piece to make us complete is eternity, our spiritual reality. In the most important way, we need that final piece to feel whole … and without it, no matter what we think or do, we are inherently incomplete. Just like the single piece missing from a 1,500-piece puzzle … just 0.07 percent of the total … 99.93 percent complete makes it 100 percent incomplete.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, and I suspect too many of us do not, only the piece that was designed and destined to be there will suffice to complete the spiritual wholeness in us; the most important part of us. We can’t just go grab a piece from some other puzzle and try to place it there. It might be a puzzle piece, sure, but it’s not THE puzzle piece.
Jesus talked about that spiritual puzzle piece in numerous places, and fortunately, He helped us identify what THE puzzle piece is.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Folks, so many of us try to fill that gap in the puzzle with a variety of pieces, but none of them are THE piece. Those pieces will never actually fit. They’re puzzle pieces perhaps, but they aren’t the pieces that are designed and destined to fit the hole that is in the puzzle (e.g., the God-shaped hole in us). Trying to force it to fit just causes frustration and exasperation, and never actually solves the problem. The puzzle piece is missing.
Unlike when my wife and friends and I were searching fruitlessly for that last piece, THE piece for our lives, Jesus, isn’t lost or hidden. He’s right in front of us in plain sight.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
The puzzle piece we need in order to finally be complete is right there for the taking. He bids us just to pick Him up and place Him right in the gap that only He can fill. To be THE piece for us once and for all. The fruitless searching for other nonconforming, dissatisfying pieces can be over.
Unless you have that piece be with you, you will never have that peace be with you.
Soli Deo gloria!