Somewhere in America, someone decided we should set aside a specific week in November to play games and put together puzzles. Fortunately for me, family game and puzzle nights are a year-round occurrence, but this year my family and I will intentionally observe National Game and Puzzle Week, November 23–29.
This is the time of year I go a-huntin’ for the next board game or puzzle to add to the family collection. They come from thrift markets and yard sales, are hand-me-downs or new off the department-store shelf. Some we use immediately, and others we put away for upcoming months.
You may be wondering why I—and now my husband and two sons—am fascinated with board games and puzzles. It’s because they bring us together without the noise from strangers on television or digital messages from our cell phones. They bring us together like families used to gather. It’s our time to tease lovingly, suffer defeat, encourage, team up, and strategize total domination!
With puzzles, it’s also where we learn the satisfying results of completion. The words of Jesus, “It is finished,” whisper somewhere in the back of my mind. My son and I put together a puzzle in the shape of a cat. Within the puzzle itself were other oddly shaped pieces, like mice and kittens. It was such a fun time as I watched him compare pieces to the picture on the box lid. I rejoiced with him every time he fitted a piece into place. When the last piece was in, we cheered and took pictures to capture our hard work.
More familiar words and passages from Scripture come to mind when we gather to piece together puzzles.
“There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent,” (Luke 15:7 NIV). I’ve been lost and I’ve been found. What a joyous feeling to know your piece matters. Just like I celebrated with my son after finding and fitting pieces into place, our Father in heaven rejoices with us as we are rightly fitted into his purpose.
“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). I look at the puzzles I’ve put together with their many pieces, and I get a small glimpse of how God loves each of us. When I’m looking for a specific piece to complete the vision displayed on the box, I search until it’s found. Sometimes I must carefully go through each piece and examine its details one by one in a process of elimination. I stay up for hours at a time some days, working each piece into place.
I savor the idea that God was that meticulous when he created us, that in a grand vision there is just one place cut out and shaped for each of us. The puzzle of his kingdom wouldn’t be the same if even one piece were missing. The vision created by the master Puzzle Maker would be incomplete. Did you know you help complete the plans and purposes of God? This is how I explain purpose and vision to my sons. Through this simple exercise, I both teach and learn to trust the process. I learn to trust God.
Your piece and my piece of the puzzle—what I like to call God’s purposes for our lives—matter to him so much that he even gave us a guide to show us the way. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,’” (John 14:6 NIV). Just like the picture on the front of a puzzle box, Jesus is our picture, our guide, our way to finding our ultimate fit in God’s kingdom.
This week in November is not only a special time to spend with family and friends, but a time to reflect on how awesome God’s plan is. In God’s grand vision, he made a specific place for you and me to fit, and he wants you to know just how much your piece matters.
Natasha Hart grew up in a small town that taught her to love people and the little things in life. Although born in Indiana, she has experienced life in various places. She is comfortable coloring outside the lines and frequently writes beyond the margins. Tasha blogs at tashartlife.com.
Photograph © Hans Peter Gauster, used with permission