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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The jigsaw puzzle of life

Our dining table is a multipurpose piece of furniture. Yes, it’s the place to gather for special meals. But on a regular basis it doubles as a worktable for jigsaw puzzles. Our family loves them. When passing through the room, I can scarcely resist the urge to stop and fit in a piece or two before I head to my household destination.

Such quick breaks are gratifying when I have success — that is, when there are colors or images in the puzzle that provide clues for fitting the pieces together. But they can be frustrating when all that’s left is sky or ocean. I know the pieces must fit — after all, there’s only one place left for them to go — but I can’t see the configuration quickly and easily. If I want to help complete the puzzle at this point, I can’t work on the run. My only recourse is to take a seat, spend some time and figure out the next move.

There are seasons in our lives when our routines are running smoothly and the “puzzle pieces” of existence are easy to fit together. Other times, however, the landscape is unclear and answers are hard to pin down. Like puzzle pieces to the sky or the ocean, we know our decisions need to fit together somehow in order to move forward. But we don’t know how to make it all happen.

It is when the way is not clear and the answers are elusive that we particularly need to take a seat, spend some time and listen. Listen, that is, for God.

As it says in the powerful words of Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Through individual prayer, through contemplating Scripture and through conversation with trusted friends, God can provide the guidance we need. But we need to take time — and have patience — as answers emerge.

Further in the psalm, we read: “Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Answers may be long in coming, but in time they are revealed.

In good times, in bad times, in all times — spend time in prayer with God. God will guide you through this colorful, complicated puzzle we call life and complete the portrait — eternally.


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