It Certainly is Puzzling

“… because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18, NRSV

During this time of pandemic, jigsaw puzzles have caught FIRE!

Not literally, of course. What I mean is, sales of jigsaw puzzles have absolutely skyrocketed in popularity as people search for healthy activities while socially isolated at home.

So Joan and I thought, “Why not?”

Granted, we have not really been big “puzzle people” in the past, but it seemed like a good, harmless, fun family bonding activity and a welcome respite from endlessly cleaning our counters.

Here is a picture of 10 days of our progress on a relatively simple 500-piece puzzle: Partial puzzle

I am proud to report that I am responsible for at least four of those blue edge pieces on the top and three or four of the yellow connections there in the middle while Joan has done the rest.

Sad, isn’t it?

I don’t know… I sit down there now and then with every intention of making some genuine progress. I squint and strain and test out one connection after another. Sometimes my efforts are rewarded with the satisfying “CLICK” of a fit, but most of the time it is just an exercise in futility.

And then I remember that the hedges really need to be trimmed and ZIP! I’m out of there!

I am sure glad that God doesn’t do the same with me.

Because even though I am the product of God’s supernaturally creative power, I’m sure I am a regular puzzle to him. If I listen really closely, I can hear God say things like, “Why did you do THAT, Russell?” or, “Come on, pal… you should be able to figure that out for yourself,” or, “DUDE! What do you need? A big flashing neon sign in the sky??”

And yet, unlike me with that jigsaw puzzle, God doesn’t throw up his hands in frustration saying, “What’s the use? This is just never going to come together.” Instead God hangs in there… patiently working with the material on hand… confident that there will ultimately be a connection.

The key – whether working with jigsaw puzzles or people – is faith.

And in case the meaning of that word “puzzles” you, check out this definition offered by the writer of the book of Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NRSV).

FAITH is what keeps me searching through the pile of funny looking pieces to find just the ONE that fits next to this one.

Faith can see the unseen. It persists in spite of discouragement and frustration, knowing that everything we need is there somewhere, even if we can’t see it.

Don’t be fooled: faith is not a passive acceptance of the status quo. It is the invisible energy that fuels our ability to continue slogging through a difficult passage.

This time – the time of global pandemic when no one really has a good picture of the future and when everyone is frustrated with the lack of progress – is the kind of time that is TAILOR-MADE for faith…

… and jigsaw puzzles.


Abundant blessings!

6 Responses to “It Certainly is Puzzling”

  1. April 30, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    Strangely enough, although not a jigsaw puzzle fan for most of my life, I, too, have recently discovered them. I’ve been playing a game on Steam called ‘Super Jigsaw Puzzle: Cities’. It has a HUGE advantage over real-world jigsaw puzzles in that all of the pieces are correctly oriented from the outset (which you could argue is cheating). I find it very satisfying, both finding that one piece that fits and completing an entire puzzle.

    … hard to comment on the connections you find with Him Upstairs (since I don’t believe he’s there). But it is very therapeutic, and it does demonstrate a good life lesson: “every journey starts with a single step,” as Lao Tzu said.

    • April 30, 2020 at 8:17 pm

      Do you not believe He’s “Upstairs,” or you don’t believe He exists? If it’s the latter, and you find your life looks like the illustration above, you might seek Him out. He’ll be there, waiting for you. (But don’t make Him wait too long!)

  2. April 30, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Faith and patience have something in common – you need them in the extremes of life – when nothing seems to be happening, and when too much is happening.
    PS You’re welcome at seekingdivineperspective.com any time. 🙂

    • April 30, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks. You know, I thought I had already subscribed to “Seeking Divine Perspective” but just discovered I had not. However, when I tried to subscribe I got a message telling me to use a valid email. Not sure what is going on, but I love reading your blog. I need to figure out how to receive it.

  3. May 1, 2020 at 1:55 am

    There’s nothing puzzling about my thoughts on this post ~😬 it’s so faith-filled and fun. I’m like you completing them. Jeff is a genius at them. He becomes so involved that he MAY stop if I say, “ice cream”. I’m so glad outs all the pieces of my life together so perfectly. Life definitely takes faith and patience 💚.

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