Saturday, August 23, 2008

Every Piece Is Part of the Puzzle

I enjoy jigsaw puzzles, though a big one can give you occasional moments of wondering whether the picture will ever be recognizable--or if all the pieces are really there. Nearly always, on a puzzle of 1,000 pieces or more, I have at least one moment where a section is finished except for a single missing piece; all unfitted pieces are laid out in plain sight with not one seeming the right shape and color for the hole; and I become firmly convinced that whoever packaged the puzzle must have left that one piece out.

Almost invariably, one of the odd pieces turns out to fit after all, which is always a relief. Uglier far than a half-finished puzzle is a "finished" one that has lost one or two of its pieces. There's something about that tiny hole that draws the eye, that shouts, "Something vital is missing.... Something vital is missing!"

If missing pieces are rare, at least in new puzzles, almost unheard of (except with a few novelty manufacturers whose customers like things really challenging) is a puzzle with extra pieces. I have, of course, on occasion found myself staring at a piece that, by itself, doesn't seem to remotely match any section of the picture on the box; but I have never finished a puzzle and found I had pieces left over. Ninety-nine out of a hundred jigsaw puzzles come out of their boxes with exactly the right number of pieces: not too few, not too many.

If we can trust human, fallible manufacturers to give us the right number of pieces for perishable toys, isn't it foolish when we treat human beings--the creations of an infallible God Who uses everything to accomplish His ultimate purpose (cf. Rom. 8:28)--as though they were superficial or dispensable?

Every piece is part of the puzzle,
Though mere blotches when seen alone:
When the picture is put together,
Any gap is a cause to groan.

Every thread is part of the garment:
Any missing strand leaves a hole
That exposes a fatal weakness
And can soon the whole thing unroll.

Every brick is part of the building:
Every part gives strength to all;
Every rivet helps hold up the structure
And ensure that it will not fall.

Every act is part of a lifetime
Made of small works false or true,
And the God Who gives us all our talents
Will judge all by the good they do.

Each saved soul is part of God's family--
Old and young, black, white, rich, poor--
All have places to fill in His service,
All will enter in Christ's own door.

You are only part of God's picture,
Though vital--so hear His call,
And despise not a one of your brothers,
Nor yourself: Christ has place for all.

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