My husband, Ross, likes doing jigsaws, and the Covid-19 shutdown has allowed him to complete several. As I like to find spiritual parallels to earthly activities, I’m sharing three spiritual truths from jigsaws.
Little by Little
While jigsaws aren’t physically demanding, they can be mentally challenging. Ross generally does 1000-piece puzzles. They require patience. They are completed one piece at a time, little by little. This reminds me of the instructions that God gave to Moses concerning their enemies who lived in Canaan. God had promised to give the land to his people, but it was going to take some time and effort on their part.
“But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” Exodus chapter 23 verses 29 to 30.
The people were going to take possession of the land gradually because they needed to “increase.” This increase was probably spiritual as well as numerical. For forty years the Israelites had walked around the wilderness with God’s provision and protection. He handfed them with daily manna and provided warmth and shelter by a cloud. Once in Canaan, they would have to find their own food and build houses for themselves.
They would have to grow up. This wasn’t going to be instant growth, but rather slow little by little growth so that their capacity to trust God in the face of warfare would develop.
Often, we become impatient with “little by little” growth. We live in an instant world and often expect instant change and instant growth, but God knows this sort of change doesn’t last. Whereas the “little by little” changes add up over time and make a big difference. A jigsaw puzzle just started is vastly different from the one that’s almost finished, and it’s the little by little changes that make the difference.
Out of chaos, a picture appears
Ross completes his puzzles in our sunroom, where we often have morning and afternoon tea. When I enter the room, it seems like people, streets, houses or animals have stepped out of the chaos.
When God calls us to a task or a ministry, it may be unclear what we are supposed to do in the situation. Yet as we begin and time passes things become clearer and a way forward becomes apparent. Sometimes we’re reluctant to embark on a task when we can’t see the end result. However, God is only asking us to take the first step, and then the step after that. Let’s begin our God-given tasks with the courage to take the first step and trust God to make things clearer as we continue on the path, he has for us.
Sometimes I don’t notice that Ross has added a handful of pieces to the puzzle, but over time the picture becomes clearer and clearer.
I always encourage Ross to leave the puzzle completed for a little while after he has finished. I want to enjoy the finished puzzle. I’ve seen it grow from a chaotic mess to a complete picture and it feels like I have been on a journey of discovery. I want to enjoy the fruit of his labours.
Likewise, there are times in the Christian life when we pause and rest. We take time to reflect on where we were when we first became a Christian, how we have grown in our spiritual walk and how we can celebrate the relationship we now have with God.
We can also reflect that one day God will have finished his work of reconciliation and restoration, and we will be amazed at how all the pieces have come together and created a beautiful new world.
Susan Barnes has been involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty years with her husband, Ross. They are now semi-retired and enjoy supporting a number of churches in north-east Victoria. You can find more of Susan’s articles at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/susan-barnes.html