I love puzzles. My dad’s theory was that I came that way. As a young child I remember being thrilled whenever I received puzzles for Christmas. I would spend hours piecing them together. It was also a fun holiday tradition to have a jigsaw puzzle set up somewhere in the house where we could all work together to form the complete picture.
When I was a teenager I was excited I when my father gave me a large puzzle that he felt would be a supreme challenge. It was of fall leaves, all the same color. As he handed me the box there was a gleam in his eye as he wished me luck with that particular project.
It would take a long time to complete that puzzle. I was a busy teenager involved in a lot of activities, and I worked part-time at a local drive-in as a cook. But in-between the craziness, I persevered and was able to complete that puzzle, much to my father’s amazement. He took a picture to record that accomplishment, before the puzzle was torn apart and put away.
I still love the challenge of fitting complex pieces together to form a whimsical or scenic picture. In recent years, I have taken to preserving the puzzles I put together. They hang in varied places downstairs in our family room. It’s something I usually strive to do during the winter months when the weather is nasty. This winter has been particularly entertaining, (We currently have 3-4 feet of snow on the level) so I excitedly picked out a puzzle that I thought would be a lot of fun. It’s a puzzle that features cartoon characters that I loved as a child. I figured the bright colors and fun figures would delight my grandchildren upon its completion.
This particular puzzle has been quite a challenge—more difficult than it first appeared. It has taken me much longer than I anticipated to complete. But finally, a couple of days ago, I was coming into the home stretch. As I snapped the final pieces into place, it became clear that one piece was missing. This is a disaster for anyone who loves puzzles as I do. I have spent hours searching, moving furniture, retracing steps, all in vain.
As I have reflected on this great crisis, several analogies have come to mind. Bear with me as I strive to piece one together. (Pun intended). In this life, we are faced with several puzzling challenges. Some make no sense whatsoever. We try to make the pieces fit, but sometimes it takes everything we can do, and then some to figure it out. Often the pieces just don’t fit the way we think they should. There are other times when we know pieces are missing, and sometimes we have to simply continue on, trusting that someday it will fall into place.
This life is full of incomplete pictures. Perfection cannot be attained within the confines of this mortal sphere. That is something that is promised during the eternities. But it can be frustrating when we want the answers “NOW!” We currently live in a challenging time. Many are facing trials of great magnitude. There are no easy answers. But there is always hope. This is something I have learned through the years. Life may not always turn out the way I envision, but as the hymn advises: “There is hope smiling brightly before us . . .” (Hymn # 19)
Someday the pictures we are “working on” will all come together. The pieces will fall into place and we will understand why things happened the way that they did. Until then, we have to learn to appreciate the picture as it is now, knowing someday it will reach its full potential.