During our vacation in the Isle of Palms, SC there was a lot of rain and thunderstorms. So, I resorted to jigsaw puzzles. The first puzzle we did was a 300-piece puzzle that I worked on with my granddaughter Ellenore. She was very good at finding the pieces and we were able to finish the puzzle in just a day and a half. Then came out the 1000-piece puzzles.
I think puzzles are a good way of relaxing and having some fun time with the kids and rest of the family. But there are so many pieces, and I wondered where to start. We found the four corners. Then we worked on the edges first. As we got halfway through the puzzle, we realized that there missing pieces. There were several edge pieces missing along with others that just were not there. To make a jigsaw puzzle work we must have all the pieces. If the box is made up of 1,000 pieces, it’s no good only having 996. That will not make up the full puzzle. In many ways, life is like a jigsaw puzzle, putting life’s pieces together.
As I found another 1000-piece puzzle to put together, I thought a bit more about this. I think many of us could say there have been moments in our lives when pieces of our life were missing. We feel incomplete—something is not quite right, and we wonder why there are missing pieces in our lives. I think author Eugene O’Neill put it very well when he wrote, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue.” And I agree with that thought. In our quiet reflective moments we think, What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I feel satisfied and contented? What have I missed out on in my life? It’s like a restlessness inside that won’t go away. It takes some courage to think along these lines, and it can be uncomfortable.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, there is a moment when Elizabeth Bennet is confronted by Charles D’Arcy, who she treats with disdain. She doesn’t like Charles, but he does have some confronting things to say to her. She says in one scene, “How despicably have I acted. I feel totally humiliated. Vanity, not love, has been my folly. Until this moment I never knew myself.” Her life was like a jigsaw puzzle that lacked some pieces to be whole.
I think the Apostle Paul felt his life was broken. It took a dramatic meeting with Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road to make him realize his life was in a mess. He’d been trained in a religious life and had a strict upbringing. He was from the nation of Israel, and the tribe of Benjamin, a true Hebrew, and a strict Pharisee. He was so eager he even persecuted the Christian church. He was a fanatic.
But listen to what he said in Philippians: “But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-9).
Paul’s life was turned upside down after he met Jesus. The missing pieces were found. And so, it is today. When we discover Jesus and make Him known, life is complete, with all 1000 pieces and all strangely fitting together effortlessly.
I think many of us could say there have been moments in our lives when pieces of our life were missing. We have felt or still feel incomplete—something is not quite right and wonder why there are pieces missing in our lives.
Even though there was a lot of rain and we had to spend a lot of time indoors on vacation, what I found was the best, was the time we spent together with one another that week, not only working on puzzles, but making and eating dinner together. Christ was in our midst. And all the pieces came together without any missing like the first jigsaw puzzle Ellenore and I worked on together.
I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow at our 8 AM and 10:30 AM Services in church or online at 10:30 AM. Pax, Fr. Bill+