Someone jigsawed a shadowed painting of a fox curled in autumn leaves, staring open-eyed at the world. That someone jigsawed it into one thousand pieces. Someone else sealed all one thousand pieces into a box, or I certainly hope they got all one thousand pieces into the box. I have yet to confirm that fact.
About half a dozen years ago, that box emerged from the Christmas wrapping paper, and it has sat on my closet shelf ever since–unsealed. I don’t dislike puzzles. I do like challenges, but somehow I was never motivated to open the puzzle and put it together, until the Queen’s birthday on Monday. Putting a child’s puzzle together with my brother, I caught the puzzling bug.
Hence, amid the bustle of spring yard work and finishing off the last weeks of the school year remotely, I am piecing a puzzle. One of the blessings of isolation is that I have had more down time with my family to do ordinary things with them and get to know them in new ways. Over the years, we all change, and even old, daily relationships must be renewed. Hence, we make puzzles together.
I see the colours of their personalities as I hunt for the piece with the right colour combination and paint stroke for that spot in the puzzle. In our family there are the trial-and-error personality, the analyze-each-piece-and-place-to-find-the-perfect-match-personality, and the study-the-art-and-colours-and-shadows personality.
Puzzling also awakens little philosophical thoughts in me. We’ve all heard the analogy that our lives are a puzzle, God sees the whole picture, and He knows how this horrible, unexpected, unwelcome piece in our lives has some purpose. Embrace that truth.
However, I thought of something different, a twist on the worn analogy. As a study-the-art-and-colours-and-shadows person, I am a visionary. I like seeing the big idea and taking it apart into manageable steps, appreciating each piece of the process. By looking for what elements are needed for the piece I’m looking for, I often locate the right one after sorting through scads of pieces. (Dad roles his eyes at me as he carefully analyzes the chosen pieces in front of him.)
I often find my piece, yes, but often the piece does not look like I expect it to look. Still it all works for the good of the picture.
As a visionary, I have a big picture idea of what I want my life to produce. I have some fairly good ideas of what the pieces should look like. Still often, when they arrive, they aren’t quite like I expected. I know it will all work out for the good of the picture and ultimately, for God’s vision for my life.
Still, I don’t always cooperate well with Him.
God, why this now? I had expected to be doing this when I was twenty six. God, when will it be my turn for that? God, why do so many good things take so much time? God, this piece was not on my radar. How does it fit into the grander picture?
In reflection, I am seeing pieces come together in unexpected ways. For example, while at Faith Builders, I landed on the yearbook committee. I’m still not sure how, because I was not an experienced designer. In fact, after my first year on committee, they considered asking me to move into a different school service position, because I hadn’t contributed good design work. No, that was not a fun conversation.
However, because of my gifts in organization, they kept me on to help develop a more structured approach to planning yearbooks, building yearbook teams, and learning design skills for future committees to use. In the process, I learned a lot about design.
These skills have been invaluable. I use them to teach Grade 7 art. I use them to design little things for this blog. Most recently, I have used them to structure the small square of blackboard space I use to make my math teaching videos flow smoothly with simple, efficient visual aids.
More than design, I learned the power of walking through failure, of trying first one thing and then another. I learned that trial and error is an integral part of not only the creative process but of learning and living as well.
I had expected to invest time in elementary music education during my time at Faith Builders, but that door never opened. I hadn’t expected to learn skills in design, but I am seeing now the value of a puzzle piece that turned out to be different than I expected. Yet, it all works for the good of the picture, just like God promised.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28
Who are the called according to His purpose? God calls all people to be saved and build His Kingdom. If you have heard God’s call, you can be assured that what is happening in your life has a place in God’s greater purpose, though it may take many days before you see the masterpiece in His Hand.
Because Someone created many masterpieces. That Someone jigsawed each masterpiece into innumerable pieces, and sealed all those pieces into a box called one life—your life, my life, the faithful garbage collector’s life. You can be sure that Someone got each piece of each masterpiece into its matching box. I can confirm that, by faith.