Action Steps from a Puzzle

The puzzle I finished reflected the colors and designs of the Southwest. Turquoise moccasins. Native American pottery. A sunset of desert textures.

puzzle pieces in various colors

Yet beyond the stress-relieving act of fitting those puzzle pieces together, God taught me precious lessons of faith.

Think About the Big Picture. Once I found the borders of the puzzle, several other pieces should have begun to snugly fit together. But something did not look right. Certain pieces simply would not fit.

My son found the answer because he’s a see-the-forest-kind-of-guy while I look at the details of the trees. “This piece right here doesn’t fit,” he said. “It skews the big picture.”

He was right. Once we found the correct piece, suddenly the entire picture made more sense.

Sometimes we think a certain direction is best for our lives. But something about the final decision doesn’t seem right. Something doesn’t fit. Red flags stop us or circumstances change.

We cannot see the big picture, but God can. He exists beyond the past, present, and future. He knows how to work out our lives and fit each day into the next one so our destinies become clear.

We just need to trust God and ask for his direction. Pray for wisdom as we take the next action steps.

Don’t Try to Force the Answer. A puzzle piece may look right and seem to fit. It may even contain the correct colors. But one side seems to snag or won’t quite align. Forcing the piece into that particular hole can bend it or even break it. Then the entire puzzle is flawed.

If we try to force something to work or move forward on our own, we can damage ourselves or someone else. We can mess up our entire destiny.

If the circumstances aren’t working out and the pathway seems skewed, trying to force a decision, a relationship, or a direction will not result. No happy ending here.

How many of us have forged ahead and forced something to happen, then later regretted our actions? Guilty.

When God manages the puzzles of our lives, all the pieces end up fitting together. Perfectly. Even when some of the circumstances feel wonky. God designs the big picture.

Give It Time. A 300-piece puzzle cannot be completed in one hour. My puzzle had been on the table for several weeks. I worked on it now and then, usually a few minutes at a time. One piece after another. Without a timeline for when I wanted to finish.

As we face decisions or transitions in life, they take time to percolate and work out all the details. The process is often more detailed and complicated than our vision of the end.

Patience is learned through the long passage of time. Hurry is the antagonist of patience.

The Alzheimer’s journey is a test of endurance—one seemingly thirty-six-hour day after another. The long goodbye. Starting a new job involves a learning curve and perseverance. Learning the standard operating procedures. Learning which co-workers can be trusted and which may turn toxic.

Writing a book involves late nights, early mornings, or weekend discipline. One word, one sentence, one character sketch at a time until the final period is typed. Sometimes the process takes years. Multiple drafts. Beta readers. Revisions. More drafts.

The best answers in life are revealed as a result of a waiting period. The strongest faith is birthed through years of experience. Long periods of waiting. The courage to ask questions that may increase the struggle. We often cannot see a purpose in the details until patience has completed its perfect work.

James, the brother of Jesus, underscored this truth. “When the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” (James 1:3-4 TLB).

My puzzle gave me joy during the cold winter. Now glued together and hanging on my wall, the colors and the final product underscore that joy. Yet the end result also reminds me of deeper wisdom.

Surely God also feels joy when he moves the pieces of our lives together so that the final result reflects his love. We just have to wait and trust him for the next move—the final action step.

©2024 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Image by Geralt / Pixabay

Check out the action steps of Reverend G as she moves through the Alzheimer’s journey. Reverend G Meets the Memory Thief.

4 thoughts on “Action Steps from a Puzzle”

  1. Nice reflection. Including both symbols of the southwest and patience required to complete a jigsaw puzzle. In February, while in New Mexico, I wrote a small book titled “No, That’s Just Politics.” It took two days of watching sunrises over the Organ Mountains for me decide how to tackle the project. Christians dislike talking about political topics, especially now, because they are so divisive. Nice, Christian people do not like to talk about controversial issues. But Jesus did all the time. As we must, because political issues have led to the death and suffering of millions over the centuries. And the same is happening today. Now, back to my newest manuscript: Searching for a More Caring America.

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