WATERFORD COMMUNITY CHURCH - 11:00am Sunday WORSHIP
by: Brent Wood
Life is like a puzzle.
Sometimes it just seems like a pile of jumbled confusion. Sometimes it seems like 1000 random pieces just begging you to make some sense of it all. Sometimes it's not being able to find the place where the piece you are holding needs to go. And sometimes it's realizing that the piece you need just wandered off into the next room stuck to someone's forearm.
But life can be really hard to figure out. Puzzling.
Sometimes my wife and I will do a puzzle. Not all the time - just sometimes. Usually over the holidays we'll do one - and then maybe a couple more during the winter when it is hard to get outside. We find them entertaining and relaxing. Usually.
This past Christmas our kids gave us a puzzle. A Charlie Brown puzzle. With 3,000 pieces. In case you are wondering, that is like 2,000 pieces too many. But we accepted the challenge. Pulled a few all-nighters (not really). But it definitely took us a while. A long while. And I struggled with the "relaxing" part of it.
But life is often like a puzzle - or simply is a puzzle. We are constantly confronted with situations where we need to sort things out, come to reasonable conclusions, and then take steps to resolve matters. Maybe that sounds easy, but that's not my experience. Sometimes I just sit and stare in confusion.
Maybe life has you puzzled at the moment. Maybe you are facing a dilemma and have no clue what to do. Maybe something is unfolding at work and you're watching it happen, but you feel confused or paralyzed. Maybe it's a family situation that has you baffled. It could be anything.
Maybe a few ideas from puzzle making might help you.
1. Start with the border. What are the values that are most important to you? What are the key priorities in your life? Just getting a sense of who you are and what you are about can be helpful in getting you started in the right direction.
2. Check the picture on the box. Often. You need to have an idea of what you want things to look like. Sometimes it's not that we don't know what to do, sometimes it's that we don't even know what the goal is - or how we want things to be. Maybe you could even write down your objective, your end goal?
3. Get some help. Sometimes you can stare at a puzzle for a long time and make little progress, then someone else walks up and drops in five or six pieces. Why? Because they haven't been staring at the puzzle for the last hour. They bring fresh eyes. Do you need some fresh eyes?
4. See the puzzle within the puzzle. We often want a solution, when we need to be content with a piece or two - or a step or two. Just put a few pieces together; you can add them to the big picture later on. We want big answers when just a little answer would be progress.
5. Stick with it. Some people are faster puzzle makers than others, but it's not a speed game. When we are in the middle of a struggle or a situation we can't figure out, we want immediate answers. When they don't come, we panic! But patience really is the key! Puzzles - and problems - often take time to be solved and resolved. Just keep on keeping on!
And keep this in mind, working through the puzzles of life is one of the most effective tools God uses to build spiritual maturity. The apostle James says as much in his epistle:
"My brothers, count it all joy when you face puzzles of many kinds, because working those puzzles will eventually lead to spiritual maturity."James 1:2-4 (translation - mine)
BTW - In verse 5, James encourages us to ask God for wisdom. While I think this is a good prayer request to make in general, in this verse we are being specifically encouraged to ask for wisdom in the moments when we are confused - both to know what needs to be done, but also to understand what needs to be learned.
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