I like jigsaw puzzles. But I have to admit, I am very dependent on seeing the image on the box. For every piece I pick up, I look to the box to see where it might fit. Once I know about where it goes, I look to the puzzle in process to see where the shape and specific color of that piece might fit in. This is quite different from the way my parents worked on puzzles when I was younger. They would stare intently at the puzzle then search for a specific piece that would either match an unusual shape, or continue with a color pattern that was already forming from the pieces in place.
My wife pointed out recently that my approach to working puzzles is very similar to my approach to life in general. I like to see the big picture and constantly know what I am working toward. As long as I know where I’m headed, I can connect the pieces to get there. I’m not a detail oriented person; to an outside observer my approach may seem chaotic as I jump from task to task. In spite of the lack of structure, every step I take is taking me toward the vision of exactly where I want or need to be.
God doesn’t necessarily work the way that I prefer. It’s as if He hands me one piece of the puzzle at a time and waits for me to connect it with where I’ve been. While I may know the general theme of the puzzle, I certainly cannot tell exactly where it is heading as it slowly comes together. I would love to see the picture on the box that He has me working toward, but instead I have to determine where each piece fits with what is already in place. That’s where faith comes in to play.
I truly believe God has a purpose and a vision for my life and my ministry. As Steven Covey suggests in his books, I would love to work with the end in mind. Instead, I’ve learned to trust that God’s got this, and trust each piece He gives me will move me forward in the right direction.
I have seen puzzles on store shelves and think to myself, “I would never attempt that”. It could have too much of the same color, or be so abstract that it would intimidate me. In my mind, I simply dismiss it as too challenging and never even begin it. It could be that it was no different for the plan for my life. if I saw the big picture, I might panic, give up or never even begin the effort. It may not be this way for everyone, but God seems to know the best way to keep me moving forward – one piece at a time.
I’ve heard it said that if the vision God has given you for your life doesn’t scare you, then you’re probably not truly seeing His vision. You are instead relying on your own limited thoughts and plans. As much as I long to see the big picture for my life, I need to be patient and accept His leading in His timing and in the manner in which He wants to dole it out to me.
Just as God has a plan for our lives, He has a plan for our marriages. We need to be open to hearing His voice and direction. However He chooses to lay that our for us, our call is to be obedient and trust that His ways are better than our ways. We need to know and trust that He has the best intentions for our relationships, so it is critical that we follow His guidance. Whether He chooses to show you the picture on the box, or expects you to put one piece in at a time, He will guide you. Just be willing to move forward with Him.