For the past few years, Ron and I have hosted a Florence Gang Annual Yard Sale. It is the perfect way to rid ourselves of clutter, make some extra cash, and meet the people in our neighborhood. The yard sales have become so routine that people will bring us items and say, “I was getting ready to take this to Goodwill but decided to donate it to your upcoming yard sale.” So, not only do we sell our junk, we peddle the hideous wares of others. (The fiber optic owl immediately comes to mind.)
On one particular yard sale, a lady brought me a very large assortment of jigsaw puzzles – 25 different jigsaw puzzles to be exact. After she gave me all the puzzles, she handed me a gallon-size plastic Ziploc bag filled to the brim with puzzle pieces. “What is this?” I asked, quite, puzzled. (Sorry, you knew it was coming.)
“It’s the extra pieces,” she answered.
“It’s the extra pieces to all the puzzles,” she explained, looking at me as if I had lost my mind for even asking the question.
“I don’t understand,” I responded.
“What’s not to understand?”
Realizing it was a lost cause at this point, I thanked her for the puzzles, wondering how I was ever going to find out which of the 25 puzzles had missing pieces. Can you imagine the aggravation, albeit challenge, of not only working a 5,000-piece puzzle, but sorting through the extra hundred or so pieces to try to complete the task at hand? To me, that would be frustration at its strongest.
PERFECTLY PUT TOGETHER
All throughout the Bible, God reminds us that He formed our inward parts and knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). In Jeremiah 1:5 we are told that God knew us before He formed us in the womb and He consecrated us before we were born. In Genesis we learn that God made us in His image (1:27) and the breath in our lungs is the breath of the Almighty (Job 33:4). When we are created, it’s as if we are a perfectly put together puzzle – every single piece in the correct place. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, we take the beautiful, perfectly put-together product and mess it up by destroying the puzzle and scattering the pieces in all directions.
Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.
As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied.
The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
Just as God knit us together perfectly in our mother’s womb, He did the same for Saul. And, like we often do, Saul sabotaged his own puzzle by dismantling and scattering the pieces everywhere.
Yet God picked up the shattered puzzle pieces of Saul. Then God equipped him with additional puzzle pieces that allowed him to go and do even greater things.
Looking at my own life, I can clearly reflect and see when my puzzle was smashed to bits. I know exactly when God began rebuilding my puzzle and I can point out with ease the extra pieces God equipped me with. I am sure many of you can do the same.
Today, I am challenging each of us to examine our puzzles. Is my puzzle intact or wrecked apart? If it’s the latter, God is waiting to step in, pick up the pieces and make us whole and complete once again.