The Puzzle


If you think about it, your life is like a puzzle.  You gather pieces as you grow, as you move forward in life, and learn about who you are.  You begin collecting them from the first, “Why am I here?” to the last breath you take.

But you don’t know what the end picture is going to look like.  Not really.  You can dream of course, even take all the pieces you can find and try to force them to make the picture you want.

Take it from me.  That doesn’t work.

I wanted to be a nurse until microbiology came into my life.  I drove to Nashville to be a songwriter until reality smacked me in the face and asked, “Do you really want to do this?”  I decided not to accept the flight attendant position when I learned I would need to drop my life the instant I was called for a flight.  This list is enormous, so I’ll spare you the rest.

The point is I tried so many things to find out who I’m supposed to be.  I tried to force myself into places and jobs I thought I would like only to realize I wasn’t qualified or gifted and when push came to shove, I didn’t even want it.  I just wanted the label; to be someone with a purpose.

So I stopped trying to force the picture I wanted.  I knew I had this small pile of puzzle pieces waiting for me, those I had gathered since I was a little girl, but without the box, I didn’t know what the end picture was going to be.  I suppose not knowing really scared me.  What if it’s something I don’t like?  What if it’s something so boring I wind up chewing on my own foot just to pass the time to keep my sanity?  Umm, I guess if I’m chewing on my own foot my sanity would be long gone.

That’s when I started asking other people what they thought about my life; what they thought my final picture would look like.  They brought all these other puzzle pieces and dumped them on my little pile.  I asked for it.  No one did anything wrong.  No one but me.  Instead of going to the only One who really knows the big picture, that final picture of what my life is all about, I tried my own way.  And when that didn’t work, I checked around to see what everyone else thought.

Now my little pile of puzzle pieces had grown into an enormous mound of confusion.

The good news, God is not only the artist Who meticulously painted each and every piece just for me, He knows which pieces are mine and which ones are not.  And He can help me find those important corner pieces, those four pieces that hem me in and stop me from going too far in any one direction.

So let me ask you:  How big is the pile you’re working on?  Are you working on the little pile you’ve been gathering or are you grabbing those “good” pieces and trying to force them?  Or are you frustrated, sorting through the mound that others have loaded on you?

Feeling lost?  Overwhelmed?

I understand.

Let me tell you:  You really can ask God to help you.  He’s the One who sketched that beautiful, final picture of you smiling.  He’s also the One who gave you the most beautiful piece, Jesus Christ; the One who adds all the light to your picture.

Once you’ve asked Him for help, He will help you sort through the mess.  He will even point out the pieces you should pick up and those you should leave behind as you walk together.

And when the day comes and you find you’re holding the last piece, a piece that resembles a tiny droplet of water, you’ll notice the only place left for the piece to fit is on the very face of Jesus Christ.  As you take your last breath and the final piece of your puzzle slips into place, you’ll realize the water droplet is a tear belonging to Jesus.

You see, He is so pleased, so deeply moved that you believed in Him, you asked Him for help, and now you’re finally home.

What a glorious picture that will be.

“I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”  (Jeremiah 10:23 NIV.)


Why, God?


It was around midnight when our daughter started to cough again. It’s not just a little annoying cough that goes away in a few seconds but a stubborn, cruel one that can take her breath away, leaving her red-faced and me panicking and rushing to her with a glass of water.

Of course I prayed. I prayed over her during the day, at night while she slept, while I brushed my teeth.  You name it, and she was on my heart and in my prayers to God.  And during one of those sleep-deprived nights of listening and going over the checklist in my mind of things I could try, a question crept into my mind:

Why, God?

I cringed as it began to grow at rapid speed into other questions. Why won’t you help her? Why is this happening?  What am I supposed to do?

I grabbed a hold of those questions and whispered out something different, “Please help her.” And a beautiful stillness flowed from her room.  She had stopped coughing and fell back to sleep.  I thanked God.  But I still held my breath and listened for the coughing to return.  It didn’t until the next day.

As I spent time with God the following morning, I told Him I was sorry. Sorry for doubting Him in the midst of my worries.  Sorry my faith jumped out the window.  But just like the awesome God we have, He forgave me and then began to teach.

He reminded me of our daughter’s prescription, the handout that came with it from the pharmacy. It states something like your doctor believes the benefits of this medication outweigh the negative side effects.

And then God made it even clearer what He wanted me to understand: The benefits from this situation will far outweigh the illness.

As the day went on and I took our daughter to another doctor where she was given an inhaler, I started to consider something. Maybe there is an underlying illness like asthma working here and now we will be aware of it.  Or maybe, just maybe, we will never know the “why” but we know “Who,” the Great Physician Who always has a plan and knows the benefits to come far outweigh the current struggle.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT.)