Friday, August 7, 2020

Fitting the Puzzle Pieces of Life

It is finished! The 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Fallingwater. After 64 days, we got ‘er done. One piece at a time.

The photo on the puzzle was taken during a visit to this architectural masterpiece in southwestern Pennsylvania as part of our 50th anniversary celebration. Now you know why the puzzle is very special to us.

            Along the way to finishing the puzzle, pieces seemed to be missing. And pieces left just did not fit—anywhere. At one point, we slowed to a standstill. Then I found four border pieces at the wrong place. With that fixed, a whole section fell right into place.

            Although I crawled around on the floor with a flashlight, one odd-shaped piece evaded us. Then one day I sat behind the table instead of in front and glanced down. Lo and behold, there it was—that elusive piece—tucked away under the broad center post of the table.

My husband found a piece by his chair in another room. How did it get there? Who knows?

Like Fallingwater, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to blend into the landscape, the puzzle pieces—leaves, rocks, water—blended into each other. We sometimes searched for a half hour to fit one piece. Or none.

But that puzzle taught me much about the journey of life.

For one thing, no matter the number of broken pieces, life can be made whole and beautiful. Imagine 1000 pieces stacked around four sides of a blank board. Where do you start?

Life sometimes feels like that. The pieces of loss and heartache pile up so that we just want to pull the covers over our heads.

I felt that way when we lost an infant daughter and I lost my hearing during the pregnancy. Then two years later, I developed cancer and needed surgery. What else could go wrong?

But God makes something beautiful as he heals us and helps us put together broken pieces. Yes, it takes time and patience and a willingness to trust and to hope, but God is faithful over that long haul. I still miss my daughter, but I now picture her in heaven, well cared for, waiting for me.

For another thing, like that odd-shaped puzzle piece, missing pieces of life may be right under our table. Perhaps we feel something lacking in a relationship. Well, maybe there’s a way to add luster to a friendship or a marriage.

Perhaps we feel distant from God. Maybe there’s something we can do to draw closer. Perhaps we feel lonely or isolated, especially during these lonesome times. When I call someone to ask how they’re doing, I myself feel less lonely. So pick up that phone.

A little perseverance goes a long way. Sometimes we got distracted. Bill had yard work. Working alone on the puzzle frustrated me. But we never gave up. And now we have a beautiful puzzle, ready for framing.

Life demands perseverance. Cooking tires me, but we have to eat. Physical limitations slow me down as the years add up. It seems every day another challenge pops up.

But scripture says don’t give up. Hope. Trust.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

No matter how bleak, we hope in God. Our faith may be stretched to the limit, but it grows in the process. Once you survive something, you learn that with God’s help, you can survive anything.

We pray for patience, but we only learn patience by persevering. We somehow become braver, more resilient and more sympathetic toward others after we’ve muddled through one of life’s hardships. Our priorities change . . . for the better.

So what’s going on in your life? For what task do you need encouragement? Kneel before God. Ask Him for help. Reach out to a friend. Then put your hand on the wheel and drive on.

I was certain the very last piece of the puzzle was missing. I had tried every piece multiple times and none fit. Yet at the last minute, when only one piece was left, it slipped right into that empty spot.

May it be so for you as you persevere on life’s bumpy road trip. Don’t give up. The best view lies just around the bend.