The Missing Puzzle Piece

What’s the hardest jigsaw puzzle you’ve ever done? Most people have worked on at least one puzzle in their life, even if it was a small puzzle with a few huge pieces of Winnie the Pooh or numbers 1-9 when they were young. There are all kinds of cool jigsaw puzzles. Some show staged portraits of people or things. Some reflect amazing wildlife views. And some are pictures of intricate artwork that take days and even weeks to complete.

I still have the hardest puzzle I ever did. At the time it was deemed “The World’s Most Difficult Jigsaw Puzzle”. And I believe it. It’s a photograph of a modern art painting that looks like a web of paint splatters in white, black, red and yellow, with a few smudges of blue here and there. Not sure how it became a critically acclaimed and hideously expensive piece of artwork, but I know why it was the world’s most difficult puzzle. There’s no rhyme or reason or pattern to paint splatters. With a puzzle like that, you’ll never know if there’s a piece missing until the very end.

Yesterday we talked about how God chose to make each one of us unique. Today I want us to see how we’re like puzzle pieces, intricately cut and designed to fit into a grand picture.

Just like each piece of a puzzle is different, no two people will ever be exactly the same. Our likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, personality, experiences and circle of influence shape us and differentiate us from everyone else.

But often we don’t like where we fit in the puzzle. We don’t want to be us.

We want to be like someone else. We want to look like them, hang out with their friends, and have their stuff. We don’t want to be ordinary and struggling. We want to be famous and successful and live the good life. Why? It could be about escaping real life and pursuing an elusive freedom from work, stress and pain. But more likely it’s rooted in our desire to have worth. We want to be worth something. And not just to our family or friends, many of whom we also think are ordinary and struggling. We want to be valued in the world. We want a prominent place in the puzzle.

Here’s the problem: If we continue to try to be someone we’re not, our piece of the puzzle will be missing.

Each piece, each person, is different. And alone, we may not look like something spectacular. But every piece is extremely important. And our place in the puzzle is critical because we were created to fit together with those around us. God fashioned us with our specific traits and the people He places in our life so that, when we live in His will, we join together to make a completed, beautiful picture of community and grace.

If any piece is missing, the picture can never be completed.

Piece by cut-out piece, the puzzle takes form. Patterns and shapes emerge. And finally looking over the finished product, a masterpiece is revealed.

This is real life.

We feel misshapen. We feel like part of us has been cut away or lost. We feel like what our life has to show isn’t worth much compared to the glossy, well put together lives of others. But here’s truth: We were never intended to be a perfectly round or geometrically shaped puzzle piece. Then we would be ordinary, and we wouldn’t be able to lock together with other pieces. No, instead we were created as perfectly designed pieces to fit in the overall picture of our real life. We are pieces of beauty that are intricately shaped for our calling, our role in the lives of others. And when the picture is complete and we look back at the wondrous finished work, God’s glory will shine.

And we’ll be glad our piece wasn’t missing.

“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” Romans 12:5-6 (NLT)

May I pray?

Lord, we were created by You and for You so that we could be an important piece of Your plan. But we don’t always feel like we fit in with others. And most of us have no idea what You’re calling us to do. We don’t know what our talents are. So we try this and that, and get frustrated because we feel like our piece is constantly missing. Jesus, today please help us to stop seeking our purpose and instead seek You. For it’s in You that we find our purpose and our talents. And our place in the puzzle. Amen.

Q4U: What’s an experience you’ve had when you felt like you finally found where your piece of the puzzle fit, even if it was only in one aspect of your life?

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