My cousin visited last week and brought a 1000-piece puzzle for us to do. It’s a picture of a village in Italy sitting on a rocky coastline. We spent most of the day chatting as we sorted out the edge pieces and organized the remaining pieces.

Convinced we had all the straight edges; we began building the frame. The bottom of the puzzle went together, just like it should. But the three other sides did not. The skyline had a few gaps. The two sides had portions that fit together, but not fully.

We searched again through the 900 remaining pieces in vibrant colors. We found three or four straight edges, but none of them completed the frame.  

The next step involved careful observation of the links already made to see if we misconnected any. We did. Carefully disassembling the partial frame, we rejoined pieces, so the right side and top border now formed a solid frame. It took longer than we expected.

But that irksome left side was still missing one piece. We wondered how hard it could be to find one last straight piece. Our conclusion–very hard! We gave up looking for it and tried to move on to work the inside of the picture.

It is hard though, for me to let things go. Even as I gathered like colors for the inside, I was still puzzling (pun intended) about that one piece. We wondered if the missing piece made it in the box at the factory. The box arrived tightly sealed. Assuming the pieces were in a plastic bag, I took the lid off while sitting on the couch. I quickly found out there was not a bag as pieces flew all over the couch, floor, and my legs. I picked up all I could find and believed I had them all.

We thought it might be prudent to take the couch apart, sweep under it, and search once more. We found two additional pieces, but neither was an edge.

I asked myself out loud, with Jerry and Andrea eavesdropping, what is the spiritual lesson in this?

Thinking about how much time I focused on one piece, it reminded me of Jesus’ parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep. One is not insignificant to Jesus. Perhaps in my Focus 2021 year I need to think about one person He wants me to invest in. If I spent the time investing in one person, as I did one puzzle piece, it could make a Kingdom difference.

I also thought about how quick I am to say I trust God, but honestly, sometimes I wonder if he left something out in the plan for my life. I feel he hasn’t given me everything I need to complete the assignment. I complain, whine, and seek answers all over the place.

When I stop, take a breath, and reevaluate the situation, I often find that I misunderstood, or misapplied the information I had. I thought I was following God’s lead, but I see a place where I stepped out on my own and now the remaining pieces are all a little off.  

That is a sign I need to stop. It’s time to talk to God and discern where I went off track. Was it deliberate sin on my part? Did I get distracted? Did I miss hearing God’s voice? Whatever the reason, I need to deal with it and move on.

In other puzzles, by the time I finish, I find the missing piece. For this puzzle, it was when I (my cousin had gone home days ago) got to the last 200 pieces that I saw it the straight edge among the others. It turns out I always had everything I needed. It was a matter of putting the pieces together in the way the Master Designer created them. It may be a minimal and subtle difference, but one that matters. Both in a puzzle, and in life!