Not often —but sometimes — we put a jigsaw puzzle together at my house. We usually choose the puzzle based on the picture on the box. Maybe it’s a puzzle of a flower garden, or a mountain scene. Once, we had a puzzle of a bunch of jelly beans scattered over a table, and some of them in a jar. I’m not sure what it is about working on a puzzle that seems so relaxing or restorative to some people. Many moments staring at tiny, oddly-shaped pieces. Looking at the picture on the box, then back to the puzzle, sometimes for hours.

When a piece fits, there’s almost a feeling of jubilation. A quiet sense of accomplishment somehow washes over a person when they get a piece into place. One less random, scattered piece off the table. One more specific piece has found its way into the puzzle that looks like the picture on the box.

But, you know what? At our house, at least, invariably and no matter how hard we try, we always lose the ‘last piece.’ I don’t know what happens. Either the dog eats it, or the vacuum sucks it up, or it simply and mysteriously just disappears. I don’t think we’ve ever done a jigsaw puzzle at our house that didn’t have at least one missing piece. And the really frustrating thing is that when you’re working on a puzzle, you don’t discover that you’re missing a piece until the very end. As you stare at that unfinished picture, you keep hoping that the tiny hole in the puzzle will finally be filled-in, when all the pieces are in place. No matter how beautiful the picture on the box may be, it only takes one missing piece to wreck the satisfaction of completing a puzzle. In fact, one of the things that takes the zeal out of my wanting to work on a jigsaw puzzle is the mystery of the missing piece.

Life’s a lot like a jigsaw puzzle, have you noticed? If life were a box with a picture on the front, it would contain a lot of very complicated pieces. So many moving parts. So many elements that have to fit together in order to create a life that makes any sense at all. And what of the mystery of the missingpieces. Things I struggle to understand. Holes I wish weren’t there. Challenges I would love to fit together into a nice, neat, no-piece-missing picture.

But there is no mystery of the last piece for God. He never loses track. He never loses a life surrendered to Him. The Apostle Paul encouragement in Philippians 1 is still a wonderful reminder for me when it feels like pieces to my life’s picture are missing:

“Being confident,” he writes, “of this: That He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion, until the day of Christ Jesus.”

A wonderful picture, each piece of the puzzle called ‘me’ perfectly organized and created by a gracious God. A one of a kind complex puzzle, with no piece missing.

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