By Ron DeBoer
Some people enjoy putting together elaborate puzzles. They might set up their puzzle of a Monet painting or Niagara Falls on a card table and work away it for months, hovering over it with the concentration of a surgeon. Me, I haven’t yet graduated past those primary puzzles with the hand-sized shapes already grooved into the cardboard background where you lay the pieces. I can’t imagine how anyone finds joy attempting to connect 75 identical blue pieces into a summer sky. There’s an artist in Sweden who leaves unfinished puzzles on display in an effort to symbolize life’s mystery. Sort of like Forrest Gump’s box-of-chocolate philosophy: you never know what you’re going to get.
I once saw a little boy jamming the groove of each puzzle piece into the slot of other puzzle pieces with not a care in the world as to whether or not they fit. He even stood up and stepped on the pieces to make them fit. Of course, once he forced one piece into a place where it didn’t belong, eventually none of the pieces fit. The thing about puzzles is every piece has its place. The picture is preordained.
I prefer to see the whole picture up front, but I know life doesn’t work that way. Each day is a piece of the puzzle of our lives; each person entering my life is a piece of my life’s puzzle; every painful moment, happy event, accomplishment, and failure makes up the intricate puzzle that is me.
Imagine the puzzle God sees! Billions of complex puzzles who themselves become puzzle pieces from a God’s-eye view, forming the complex creation. Isn’t it astounding that he knows and understands us completely? Psalm 139 describes his intimate knowledge of each of us: “You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away” (v. 2). God knows the puzzle-picture long before the pieces are even out on the table. But, amazingly, he cares about each individual piece: “You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (vv. 15-16).
God knows the picture that you and I will form as our life’s puzzle comes together. He has drawn the plans for us, even when we believe we are creating our own. Sometimes I think we’re a lot like that little boy who stamps together the wrong pieces to the puzzle. We try to take the talents and resources God has given us and we attempt to create our own puzzle picture. Proverbs 19:21 says, “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” Although we can create a deviation from the picture God has intended for us, we cannot change his plan for the kingdom of Heaven. When we trust God’s intentions for our lives—to seek him and build his kingdom on earth—our picture takes shape in all its beauty.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” He knows your picture, and he knows the complete picture of the kingdom of heaven that will take its final shape when Christ returns to the earth.
Wouldn’t you love to catch a glimpse of the puzzle on that card table when it’s finished? I know I’ll be a piece on the table. Will you?
Ron DeBoer is head of the English department at Grand River Collegiate Institute in Kitchener, Ontario and media editor for The Banner, a Christian magazine based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and education from Dordt College (Iowa) and a Master's degree in English literature and creative writing from the University of Waterloo.