God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise! -Jeremiah 17:14 (MSG)
I recently came across a website that turns any image into an interactive jigsaw puzzle. You can imagine the fun I’ve been having uploading my favorite lighthouse images (including photos of those I have personally taken) and putting the pieces together. Of course, the drag-and-drop feature can’t compare to physically picking up a cardboard piece and pressing it into place, but the challenge is similar, especially if you set the number of pieces to 150 or more. But what I like the most about this online pastime is that you don’t have to worry about your puzzle ending up with an empty space!
They say that life is like a jigsaw puzzle. That you just have to live it out and eventually all the pieces will fall into place. While this may sound like a hopeful and reassuring advice for those who are uncertain about their future, it neglects to address the fact that sometimes puzzles end up with one or more missing pieces.
I know of family members and friends who are true jigsaw puzzle aficionados. They barely finish one puzzle and they’re on to the next. Some of their favorite completed creations are proudly displayed either under glass-topped coffee or dining room tables or in beautiful frames on their living room walls. But then there are those puzzles that either stay on a cardboard base tucked under a sofa or end up in the garbage. Why? Simply because they had one or more missing pieces. No matter how beautiful the puzzle image may have been, just one empty space rendered it incomplete and undisplayable.
Have you ever felt like there was a piece (or pieces) missing in your life? Perhaps you started feeling that way immediately after your picture-perfect plan got canceled. Maybe you lived a care-free life for many years and now you realize that you filled some empty spaces with the wrong things. So, you look at your life picture and see that it is not only incomplete but also distorted. Then again, you may have had all the pieces in place at one point but because of an unwise choice or unforeseen setback one or more pieces popped out and now you are left with an empty space(s).
Every human being has experienced some form of emptiness at one time or another. This emptiness is different for everyone and therefore difficult to describe. Yet, most will agree that it is emotionally and even spiritually draining. Feeling empty can rob you of all hope, tear your dreams into shreds, or even cause you to question your purpose in life. Sometimes emptiness is like a piece missing from your very soul.
Jesus warned us that in this world we would have troubles, many of which can and will create empty spaces in our lives. These troubles include, but are not limited to, the loss of a loved one, an unrequited love, mental illness, a life-threatening medical condition, financial distress, or even an unfulfilled goal. But the truth is that even those who seem to have it all together can be suffering from emptiness. Sometimes people who appear happy, successful, and healthy are actually struggling to find true joy, peace, love, and satisfaction. Their outward appearance is like the beautiful image on the cover of a puzzle box, but beneath the facade is a broken, incomplete and empty soul.
In the pages of God’s Holy Word (the Bible), we can find the one piece that is missing in every human heart. It is the only piece that completes the puzzle of life. Once in place, it drives away all oppression. It provides clarity of mind and assurance of purpose even in the midst of life’s many uncertainties. That piece is none other than the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, and the Author and perfecter of our faith. He is the only One who can hold all the pieces of our life together and keep us from breaking apart.
Man was created to enjoy a complete and perfect relationship with his Creator, but sin severed that relationship creating an empty space between them. An emptiness that man has been trying to fill with all the wrong things ever since. Sex, drugs, money, fame, power, corporate success, food, and yes, even religion are life pieces that have been forced into the hole that only God can fill. That is why 2,000 years ago God himself provided mankind with the missing piece that would make that relationship complete once again. He sent Jesus, His only Son, to fill the void created by sin and bestow upon everyone who believes in Him the fullness of His grace.
Unfortunately, there are many who are still living like a puzzle with an empty space. If you are one of them, my prayer is that you will be encouraged to know that the missing piece in your life is not lost. It is actually within your reach. It begins with the realization that you cannot and will not fill that emptiness with anything but Jesus. Then you must be willing to surrender your life to Him by letting go of the enslaving power of defeat, self-pity, and condemnation. Finally, you must accept and trust His forgiving love. Now, if Jesus is already part of your life puzzle but the troubles of this world have removed other pieces leaving you confused and dismayed then take heart. I am here to remind you that He is willing and able to put every piece of your life back together and make you whole once again. Just shift your focus away from your present situation and fix your eyes on Calvary’s cross and on the nearby tomb. Look carefully, they are both empty! You know why? Because neither one could hold back the One who died and rose again in order to fill your life with eternal hope. So, reach out to Him right now. I will be praying for and with you.
Prayer: Loving and Gracious Father, I call upon you to fill this emptiness in my soul. I want to be complete once again. My heart cries out to you today, it yearns for the missing piece that is keeping me from enjoying your perfect peace. I surrender my will, my desires, and my brokenness to you. Lord Jesus, fill my heart and let your plan for my life prevail. For only then will I be truly complete. In your precious name I pray, Amen.