Early in my mission work, back when the Teaching & Sharing Center (of Grand Ledge) was a part of my sole-proprietorship endeavors, I placed baskets of jigsaw puzzle pieces in various rooms of the Center.  When somebody became curious and asked why, it gave me the opportunity to explain one of the most basic and important aspects of my beliefs and teaching.  First, I would ask if they had ever put together a jigsaw puzzle.  Since almost every visitor usually had, it provided the basis of understanding for my parable of the puzzle . . . 


How does one get started putting together a jigsaw puzzle?  What do you look for first?  Pretty much everybody I know begins by finding the corner pieces, because they have two straight edges, and are typically easier to locate.  For many, that leads to the next logical step of looking for all the pieces which have a straight edge.  These pieces, when placed together, will form the framework for the entire picture. Some might jump right in combining pictures with unusual colors or shapes before doing either of these steps, but somewhere in the early going, all three of these tasks will usually take place.  It is far easier to get a sense of progress in this fashion, than it would be if you took an ordinary shaped piece of a common color and tried to find another similar piece to connect it with.  So . . .  






I ask you, are these the most important pieces because they are colorful or their shapes make them easier to find and see where they fit?  Once you have most of these pieces in place how does your picture look?  Would you be satisfied to stop at that point?  Is the picture now complete, as far as you are concerned? 




If you answered yes to that last question, you are a very unusual person.  For most of us, the picture is not anywhere close to being done.  Only the easiest pieces have been put in place.  Now the real task begins.  It is at this point that I would like you to start thinking of the universe as a giant jigsaw puzzle, and you are a piece in it.  




Sometimes a piece really looks like it should fit.  Its colors and shape cause you to think it connects to a particular group or place.  However, it does not go there.  And, it does not matter how many times you try, the results are always the same.  On other occasions there are only one or two openings that need to be filled, and you think your piece might be the one to do it.  But, something is just not quite right.  Occasionally, others try to help, and tell you where they think your piece fits.  It is always interesting when they insist you try a fit someplace you have already tried several times yourself, discovering it did not work.  Then, some people like to add a little pressure, as if pushing harder will make a piece magically fit someplace it does not.  But, no go.  So the search continues on . . . 




It does not matter if the puzzle is 500 pieces, or 1000, or 2000, or 5000 . . . the question is the same.  When is the picture truly complete?  Would you stop at any of the above stages?  Or, how about the picture below . . .


What if you got down to the very last piece, and you could not find it anywhere.  Maybe it was missing from the box?  If you had all 4999 pieces in place (the illustrated puzzle is substantially smaller), and your missing piece was in the upper left hand area of the picture someplace, with no distinct shape or distinguishing colors, a really "ordinary" piece if ever there was one, would you say it was no big deal?  After all, such an ordinary piece does not really matter?  Or, like me, omitting any typical expletives, are those words more likely to express something along the lines of "ah man, there is a piece missing from my puzzle?"  Because, as any true jigsaw puzzle enthusiast will tell you, the picture is not complete until every single piece is in place.  Do you understand what I am trying to say? 

You are an important piece of the puzzle!

I believe God's universe is much like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  Every person, and every thing, is indeed an important piece of that unfathomably enormous puzzle.  And, that includes you . . . 






Your shape does not matter.  How colorful you might be does not matter.  Even if you deem yourself plain or ordinary, it does not matter one stitch.  You were designed to fit perfectly someplace within the Creator's puzzle.  I am not sure if things are fixed or fluid, but either way, you were not an afterthought.  You are part of the design.  You matter.  There is a spot only you can fill.  And, the picture is not complete without every piece in place.  The challenge of life, of course, is finding where you truly fit.  But, what a journey that can be.  You will undoubtedly experience frustration along the way.  You may have grown up with other people deciding for you where they thought you should fit.  Perhaps what you were taught was important, has never really seemed all that comfortable as you tried to fit yourself into situations where you were actually chasing other peoples dreams, or living someone else's values.  There is usually no shortage of opinions from others regarding what your life should be about (where you should fit).  But the only place you will ever really find that truth is looking within yourself.  The reward is worth it.  For the day you find where your piece, p-i-e-c-e, fits, will be the day you truly find your peace, p-e-a-c-e. 





After sharing the parable, I allow each visitor to the Teaching & Sharing Center of Grand Ledge to pick out a puzzle piece to take with them, if they wish, to  help them remember that they are an important piece of God's puzzle.  Young or old, it is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.  And remember, that other person you might have just treated as if they were nothing, they too are an important piece in God's puzzle, as is the rest of creation we can so easily presume is here to use as we wish. 

Trust and enjoy the process.  Find your peace.






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