PuzzlingPicThe puzzle has been on our table for nearly a week now. Each time I walk past, I see small indicators of progress: a section has been filled out more; various details are becoming clearer. Eventually it will look like the picture on the front of the box, but not yet. More work is needed.

The time required to complete this puzzle is much longer than the previous one we did. Our daughter picked them both, but the first was a small 100 piece puzzle with a bouncy puppy on the front. The boundaries were quite clear, the colours distinctive and the pieces large. Quite different to the muted hues bounding the bottom quarter of our current project, rising into a vivid African landscape.

This work-in-progress also has many more pieces of much smaller size. It is further complicated by being a 3D image, meaning you don’t always see clearly what is printed on the piece until you examine it from a few angles. Even then, it often requires a broader perspective, a step back to examine the bigger picture, before its position is apparent. Once a tentative try is met with a fit, the image suddenly becomes clearer.

Circumstances, even our lives, can feel a bit like a puzzle. It might even seem like things have fragmented and we’re left wondering how the pieces will ever fit back together. Often we want things to work out like that small puzzle: quickly resolved by large, well defined pieces with clear positions. But it’s usually more like a big 3D puzzle.

Sometimes the pieces of life don’t seem to fit or we can start to feel they’re incomplete. Other times it’s like most of our time is spent pressing together weird, muddy–coloured parts that risk eye strain to try and make sense of. It can seem like we’re stuck, making no progress at all. Headache inducing frustration can set in.

But just like that big puzzle, we’re learning. We’re glimpsing fragments of a bigger picture.

Our lives are a work-in-progress and from this we can take heart. Even when the puzzle is at its most confusing, rudimentary state—newly upended from the box (do you know that feeling?!) we can start sifting and grouping, piecing and finding edges to make sense of it.

Just as our 3D puzzle is slowly starting to resemble what it was intended to be, so can we have confidence that if we just keep working, piece-by-piece, the intricate plan for which we were purposed will gradually become clearer.

Wherever you are at in life, don’t give up on those pieces. We each have our own set. Eventually they will resemble the picture from which they were forged—a destiny we can only imagine.