Can you imagine if you handed a 5 year old the pieces of a jigsaw one at a time, with no picture to follow! Well, in my house, that would end up in all sorts of tears and tantrums.
But isn’t that just how life can feel sometimes as a Christian? We know that God has created a unique and perfect top box picture for each of us, yet without that completed picture, how can we possibly fit all the pieces in the right place at the right time?
Even though 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us; “We walk by faith, not by sight”, when you’re doing a jigsaw, that’s really tricky, even for the most seasoned puzzler.
As I have travelled through the jigsaw of life, I’ve learnt that God has a real sense of humour. Not only does He hand me pieces of my puzzle that fit perfectly into place, revealing great sections of His glorious plan, but sometimes He hands me pieces that make no sense at all. How frustrating!
Let me take you back a bit, 15 years actually … it was about session 6 of The Alpha Course. I’d been going to church for a few years before this, but had never really embarked on a relationship with Jesus. So this was real turning point for me. To be honest, the way I did church before, was all about me! Graeme often worked nights, and so it was really helpful with a toddler and a young baby to pop them in the buggy on a Sunday morning, mosey on round to church, sing some songs, drink some coffee, chat to a few friends then return home in time for daddy getting out of bed.
Anyway, on this particular evening, I found myself going along to Alpha reluctantly. Graeme had just been paid off and here we were with a baby, a toddler, a mortgage, bills and all the other stuff that goes with young family life. It now seemed questionable that the Jesus I had really been getting know, and hanging out with over the past few weeks actually had any interest in me. Why in the world would He allow this amount of anxiety and fear to be part of my life? We had 2 wee ones!! Money was already tight!
I sat quietly, listened to the talk, said very little, and wondered why I was there at all. At the end, I shared with the group leaders my situation, and the disillusionment I felt about the friendship I was building with Jesus, and the sense of abandonment I was experiencing.
And then they were out there … those words that I remind myself of on an almost daily basis.
“You need to see this as part of a bigger picture Lisa. This is just one tiny piece of a much bigger puzzle and one day, you will look back and it will make sense”
How true! The next 18 months, God just handed us pieces of sky. So infuriating. Lots of pieces with a similar theme, none of which quite fitted. And every time a piece seemed to fit, the next piece didn’t and we had to try again. Sometimes we had to hold on to a piece and wait until a few more were in place before the fit was right.
It was quite a turbulent journey, but within 2 years of that evening, we had sold our house, moved in with Graeme’s parents, moved out of Graeme’s parents, bought a new house, nowhere near where we wanted to live (…a whole other story where God displayed His sense of humour and perfect plan) and given birth to Archie, our 3rd child! Plus we had City Church – a whole family of people doing their own jigsaw puzzles!
As my journey with God continued, I learnt that when God gave me pieces of puzzle, even if they didn’t fit there and then, they were like His promise to me. They were often the pieces of hope I needed to focus on, to help me put some of the harder pieces in place. Because the Gospel is full of the fulfilment of Gods promises, we can be confident that when we hear God’s promises on our lives, that they will be fulfilled. God’s not like us – He doesn’t ever change His mind. He doesn’t ever give up because He gets bored of completing the sky!
For me, I need to remember Gods promise to Abraham, God promised him descendants when he was 75 – and Isaac wasn’t born until Abraham was 100! That was a wait that must have required a great deal of patience and trust.
Don’t mistake God’s patience for his absence. His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He is always with you! Deuteronomy 31:6
When my wee ones are doing a jigsaw, I always tell them: “Start with the corners then complete the edges”. Isn’t this such good advice!
If we start our jigsaw with the cornerstone – Jesus – then use the gospel as our edges and boundaries, we have a really solid framework within which to build our puzzles. We know where we belong, and we can have confidence in the fulfilment of his promises, even if we can’t see where they fit just yet.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2: 19-21
Recently, God’s been telling me that I should let people see my jigsaw puzzle, even though it is incomplete and some of the sections look unpleasant, God reminds me that it is all part of a bigger, perfect picture. He hasn’t wasted any of those pieces, He plans to use all of them for His greater good. We should never hide the pieces God has given us, they are our testimony and nobody can deny them when they see our pictures evolve.
Let me leave you with my favourite verse in the Bible, the one which confirms to me that God has the top box picture of my jigsaw and encourages me to be His hands and feet on earth when not everyone knows Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.“ Jeremiah 29:11
So let’s stand together and help each other with our jigsaws, so that we can enjoy being part of fulfilling this scripture.
Lisa McColl is part of the Stonehaven site, where she leads the Host Team, as well as being one of the City Church Trustees. She’s married to Graeme, they have 5 kids and in her “spare time” (!) she loves cooking, scrap-booking, walking her dog, hanging out with friends and redecorating!