When I was little, I was fascinated with solving puzzles. My mom occasionally picked them up for me at yard sales or thrift stores. I always welcomed the challenge of opening a new jigsaw puzzle box, rolling up my sleeves, and getting down to business.
I would pull out all the corners and edges and create the border, then sort out the rest of the pieces by color and background. I arranged them all in little piles around the table so that as I worked, I could be as efficient and strategic as possible.
The top of the box was always propped up in front of me as a guide. It didn’t matter whether it took hours or days; I would study the pieces to determine their perfect fit. I didn’t stop until my masterpiece was complete. My work was done when the picture in front of me mirrored the one on the box.
It was a fun hobby, until the day I took things a little too seriously. I had almost a whole puzzle put together before I realized I had more empty spaces than the two or three pieces that were left on the table. Frustration filled my heart as I grabbed handfuls of puzzle pieces, threw them into the box, and tossed the incomplete puzzle in the trash.
“Why don’t people tell you when pieces are missing?” I lamented to my mom.
She answered me with a question I didn’t like at the time. “Did you have fun?”
“Yes, but that’s not the point!” I argued.
“It’s exactly the point, Christina,” she replied. “If you knew it wasn’t going to come out the way you wanted, you wouldn’t have even tried. You would have missed the fun in the process.” She was right, but I can’t say my young mind received her wisdom that day.
A big struggle for me since my release from prison five years ago has been starting new things without any guarantee that they will work out. I’ve had new relationships, new jobs, and new priorities…and some days, those things were scary.
The process of living this new way of life has been a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. On most days, I’ve meticulously arranged the details and decisions ahead of me and have a good strategy in mind for accomplishing my plans. But then things don’t turn out the way I envisioned.
Somehow there’s another missing puzzle to hinder my progress. Sometimes I lack all the facts of a situation, or I maybe expect things of others or myself that I shouldn’t.
Even at age 50, I can find myself annoyed with uncertainty like I did as a child. I’m grateful for grace because I often fail here. I’m also grateful for the reliable source of wisdom I have that I can turn to when I’m grappling with a different outcome than I expected.
Quitting is not an option anymore, so during those moments of disappointment or frustration, Proverbs 19:21 helps me look at things from a more mature perspective: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” This verse reminds me of my mom’s encouraging words during that mini tantrum so many years ago.
The Lord knows the end from the beginning. He has a purpose for allowing every outcome, and our job is to trust Him even when all we can see is an incomplete picture (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Maybe the puzzle you’re trying to solve today is missing a few pieces too. It’s okay. Just remember that God holds your whole life in His hands, even the details you can’t see.
Don’t get caught up in what you expect the finished picture to be. There are lessons and moments of joy in your journey that you would miss if the Lord revealed everything at once. If you knew the process, you might not choose to do the hard things, but then you’d miss the beauty on the way.
Trust God to give you what you need to do your part and leave the missing pieces to Him.
Christina Kimbrel serves as VL’s production manager. Once incarcerated, she now ministers hope to those held captive by their past and current circumstances while sharing the message of healing she found in Jesus.