Steve and I have been sitting at our kitchen table every evening for the past 11 days putting a puzzle together – at the request of our sweet Maggie.
I love puzzles, but rarely take the time to sit still long enough to focus and successfully place the pieces in their predestined spaces. However, this puzzle is special and so we persist.
Maggie has been gone these past 11 days, visiting a friend in California. She planned the trip months ago. She purchased her own tickets and eagerly anticipated the trip. But as the day drew nearer we all realized this would be a tough time to be apart. We relish the holiday season and enjoy the fireside, cookie baking, Christmas lights together. She will arrive home 36 hours before Christmas, and so the holidays have felt “different” with our Maggie away.
But she left a gift behind. Actually she left 13 gifts behind, one for each day she would be gone. Here were her instructions to us:
“Each day at 4:00PM when dad is home from work, go into my room, turn on my cd player, play Charlie Brown Christmas music, open my Mac and click on the prerecorded message to you for that day. Then follow the instructions of the message, and finally, call me on the phone.”
She had Christmas candy overflowing from silver servers she decorated her desk with – candy canes spilling out of the silver teapot. It was decorated elegantly with that perfect Maggie touch.
First, her video message would lovingly greet us and share something special she was thankful for in our home, our relationships, or our walk with God. Beautiful reminders from our daughter of what she has received in her heart as she has grown up in our home. Next, she would tell us which Christmas movie she wanted us to watch that evening (she had all the Christmas movies stacked neatly on a side table). She would share a “Maggie Commentary” on each movie and then remind us to choose a box for the day (there were 13 boxes pyramid stacked on one side of the desk). We would choose a box, which held several puzzle pieces ---- and carefully carry them to our kitchen table to continue on the with the project of completing the beautiful Christmas puzzle. Several days into the routine, we realized the puzzle would reveal a photograph of Maggie and a message from her. A hidden message, one we would have to be patient and diligent to uncover.
So each day we have sat dutifully and attended to the puzzle pieces on our kitchen table, eager to complete the project and find the hidden message.
You may have already learned this lesson, or at least experienced it at some level. It was not a new concept to me, but it came packaged in a fresh new way that ministered to my wonderings of late.
A puzzle is much like our walk with God. With all its pieces and all the unknowns, there are still truths we can hold on to and these should never be ignored. (If ignored, life can become hopeless.)
With the puzzle --- we know there are many pieces, and it will take time to find the home of each uniquely designed part. With this puzzle, we have only been receiving a few pieces at a time. So patience was key. We knew eventually we would complete the puzzle and the fullness of the message would be clear. But we could do NOTHING about the mystery of the unknown pieces until they found their way to the table.
With life --- we know certain things about our life, but much of it is still a mystery. We know what color our eyes are and what our favorite food is, but we do not know what tomorrow, or next week, or next month will look like. We can have an idea, but we do not know for certain. It is a mystery. We do not have all the details we would need to even make an educated guess. We can not guess or presume to know, we do not have all the pieces.
With God ---- we can find a deep, abiding peace in knowing that He has all the pieces, He knows what the finished puzzle of life will look like. HE and only HE can make it a beautiful finished product.
No one – no one --- knows. No matter how successful, how wealthy, how healthy, or how happy they are --- no one knows what the finished puzzle of their life will look like.
And what’s more, He wants the outcome to be beautiful and worthwhile.
God was the designer of the puzzle called me. God designed the puzzle called you.
I’ve received just enough wisdom from God to know, that in my hands alone, my puzzle is in trouble. But when I remove my hands from trying to manipulate the pieces and when I rest my mind from trying to manage the results, when I wait for God to reveal the pieces and place them according to His good plans, life has hope and becomes exquisite. It becomes so --- because the Creator of the stars has His hands on the pieces and I get to simply enjoy the feeling of being “placed” by Him.
Our flesh wants to be in charge. But our soul knows we are unfit for the task.
Our mind thinks it could maybe figure out where to place the pieces. But our soul knows our mind will never be able to accomplish in 3 lifetimes what God can accomplish in one.
I want the puzzle on my kitchen table to be complete. But it is not.
I want the puzzle of my life to reveal glimpses to me of what the outcome will look like. But it will not.
I want to place my puzzle in the hands of the One who can orchestrate the most with the pieces. And He will.
It’s a matter of patience, endurance, and surrender.
I wouldn’t want to see what would be pieced together if left in my human hands.
I look forward to seeing the finished product in His.
“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 hope and a future.”
(photo by Steve, of Maggie's puzzle to us)
(photo by Steve, of Maggie's puzzle to us)