Life Can Be Puzzling

This life is a busy, changing and sometimes chaotic experience. The demand to maintain your balance, focus, and direction is very challenging.  One of the principles I use is keep life simple.  I try not to over emphasize or complicate life more than necessary.  I use the parable of a picture puzzle to illustrate life.

When assembling a picture puzzle, I first examine the pieces.  At this stage, I do not concern myself with assembly but rather perspective.  All of the pieces must be turned right-side-up.  This seems to be painfully simple, but you may be surprised at how many people try to put life together without considering the relationship of each piece to its surroundings, such as color, shape, and shade.    They are indiscriminate as to how the pieces relate to each other or how they affect the overall picture.  They seem intent only to find a way to jam the pieces together.  It’s like a child trying to join two pieces that are turned the wrong way or mismatched colors.

Once the pieces are all turned correctly, I then begin to sort them into groupings such as edge, sky, building, mountain, horizon, tree, pieces.  This process takes a lot of time, but it keeps your focus on the pieces that apply to the piece you are looking for.  Some of the difficulty of life is caused by the wasted motion of looking for answers in the wrong places, like looking for a piece of sky in the tree section.

Next, I begin to work on the edge pieces.  Their uniqueness, in having a straight side, makes them easy to separate from the other pieces. Once all of the edge pieces are connected, the outer border of the picture is completed. The border calls your attention to a primary object and its relationship to its surroundings. Life is like that in the sense that we must discover how we fit into God’s plan of life.  Briefly stated, that plan includes that we were in the mind of God before He created the first particle of matter (Ephesians 1:4).  His plan is to make us holy or a separated people like himself (Gen 1:26), in so doing, He might deliver us (body, soul and spirit (II Thessolians 5:23) from this present evil world (Galatians 1:4) so that He might present (us) the church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing Ephesians 5:27). Sin will lose its grip on us by the time He finishes His work on us.  That defines the picture of our journey through this world.  That is foremost in the mind of God, and He will spare no expense, lessen any trial or burden, or shelter us in any way that will hinder this from happening.  It is imperative that sin be destroyed in our lives.  All of the remaining pieces fit together inside of this border.

After the border is completed, I then take on one grouping at a time.

For example, I like to do the sky.  I like the sky because it has the least complicated colors and they all stand out in stark contrast to the rest of the puzzle.  I liken this to working with the simpler teachings in the Bible. They stand out in sharp contrast to the less defined doctrines.  Another thing I do when working with a particular section is assemble similar shapes together and lay them in the same positions in rows.  This eliminates wasting time looking for a piece that requires an unusual corresponding shape.  It takes a discerning eye and diligence to find the similarities and differences in the matching pieces.  Life is just like that.  Our struggles often come simply because we have not discerned the details of the relationships to the others adjoining us.  Similarities do not equate to a good fit.  Often what seems to be a perfect fit will not work, and forcing it will only waste time and effort and can even damage the picture.  When a piece fits, it will go together easily and completely.

Each section completed will bring a clearer view of the whole picture and a feeling of satisfaction.  When I come to the hardest part of the puzzle (usually at the end), several observations become apparent.  First, by doing first things first, I have avoided wasting time struggling with things that I am unprepared for.  I have also avoided a lot of frustration and feelings of defeat and incompetence.  Second, by following principles of organization and planning, I have grown in my confidence and ability.  By applying this to life, I have gained a clearer understanding of what I am doing in this world and how to distinguish differences that can derail me in my journey.  I have also gained respect and appreciation for what I attempt to do.  Third, my character and endurance has grown.  By knowing where I am going and how I intend to get there, I am less distracted so that I stay on task and finish what I started.  Finally, by looking back at what has worked and looking to see what lies ahead, I can see the unknown in a little more light and it makes a lot more sense.  It is easier for me to accept the bumps in the road and to trust the Lord much more.  After all, without faith, it is impossible to please Him (the Lord) (Hebrews 11:6a), and whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23)  Yes, life can be puzzling, but puzzles can be solved, and we will be the better for it.

Vernon Ball