As a child, my parents chose Thompson Lake, Maine as the spot for our family vacation. Every August for a decade, my father took any where from one to three weeks off to reconnect with family. Before this trip, my mom or dad picked up a large jigsaw puzzle, usually between 5000 and 10000 pieces. These puzzles became a family tradition to complete on cold and rainy days or uneventful evenings. Without a television to distract us, corners were completed first, then the hard part began. Filling in grass, mountains, the sky or water was an endless pursuit of trial and error, trying to see if nearly identical pieces would fit. When this tough stretch was completed, anticipation grew as pieces were put in place fast and furious. Unfortunately, there were a couple of puzzles that any came with 4999 and 9999, missing the final piece to the puzzle. Despite a fervent search of the floor, nothing was uncovered, leaving a bitter taste of disappointment.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” – Luke 15:8
The idea that puzzles intertwines with life has some traction. Sometimes individuals find themselves faced with a difficult decision, a dilemma or struggling to grasp why something they want has not been granted. The reason behind earthly trials isn’t usually known at the time you go through it, yet time has a way of revealing answers to unsolved mysteries. During these periods of uncertainty, I often feel like a missing piece to a puzzle. The only problem is every time I think I’ve found exactly where I think I fit in life, I discover that my gifts, skill set or talents don’t match, unable to complete the puzzle. At this point, there is a temptation to betray your true identity by asking others, “who do you want me to become?”
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines, 1 Corinthians 12:11.
The apostle Paul refers to a church as a body with many parts. Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, it takes time to figure who you should connect with and what role best suits your personality. If you take 1 Corinthians 12 literally, local churches are like unfinished jigsaw puzzles waiting for the right individual to come and serve. Unfortunately, a growing mindset of what’s in it for me is preventing couples or families from taking a leap of faith. Anyone burned by past negative experiences are gun shy, afraid of reliving the pain of broken relationships. In the end, each person possesses unique gifts or talents no one else can offer. Yet, free will is designed to allow you to get involved when your ready. Therefore, if this blog finds you struggling to fit in, may the Holy Spirit lead you to complete another church, puzzle or soul.
by Jay Mankus