Jigsaws. A patient pleasure or source of frustration? Did you know that there are, apparently, some surprising benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles? They exercise the left – logical and works in a linear fashion - and right – creative and intuitive - parts of the brain at the same time; they help improve your short term memory as doing a puzzle reinforces connections between brain cells; they improve your visual-spatial reasoning as you have to look at a piece and figure out where it fits into the bigger picture. Jigsaw puzzles are also said to be a great meditation tool and stress reliever as you focus on one image for a long period of time and finally, they are a great way to connect with people – who can resist going into a home and spotting a jigsaw puzzle on a table and not try to place one piece?? So, what does this have to do with the Book of Esther, I hear you ask? On Sunday both Di and Angela referred to jigsaw puzzles, not knowing that the other was going to use that as an illustration – what a beautiful example of God being at work guiding and leading them both in their different preparation and blessing and encouraging us as a church. Do we, therefore, need to pause and reflect and ask ‘what is the Spirit of God saying to the church?’
I am reminded that God has not created us to be alone; just like a jigsaw, every piece is important and significant in order for the whole picture to be seen, enjoyed and appreciated; if a piece is missing the whole thing is spoiled, there is a sense of frustration and ‘if only’. Di talked of the necklace she wears which is shaped like a jigsaw piece – each piece is unique but necessary, just like God's calling on each of our lives; He has a plan and purpose for each of us. Angela reminded us that God knows the bigger picture at all times, particularly when I don’t! Remember the frustration of watching a small child trying to make a jigsaw piece fit into a space that it was not made for? As a parent, you wonder when they will work out that no amount of banging or manipulation can make a round, ball shape piece fit into a triangle? Is that how God is with us …. patiently waiting for us to cease trying and expending energy in the wrong place, fussing and fretting when, if we took a step back and connected with Him asking for help, He would be able to guide and lead us? Am I, are we, living and serving in the right place at this time? Di talked of finishing a job at a school where she has worked for six years and stepping into a future that was ‘somewhat unknown’ recognising that whilst it is ‘somewhat unknown’ to her, it is not to God. She trusts that God knows the next step, the next piece of the picture that makes up the whole. We can absolutely trust an unknown future to a known God!
Given jigsaw pieces are unique and each of us has one, and only one, precious life to live, what jigsaw piece are we? What jigsaw piece do we want to be? I remember being taught to start with the corner pieces, I really didn’t know why because they were only four pieces in a whole jigsaw but somehow, they gave structure and boundaries, a building block, a place to start. One of my sons always started with the picture bits, a boat, a train, something that was easily identifiable with easy to spot colours in the mass of pieces that we patiently turned over after he tipped them out of the box. I couldn’t ever get him to start with the corner pieces! In these COVID times, we have had to accept and learn to do things differently and yet we’ve still, had a choice, a choice to follow the guidelines, a choice to make the best of what we have and be grateful for the good things, a choice to use our time wisely and well, a choice whether we do try new things, learn new skills. Esther also had a choice, a choice as to whether she was going to risk her life in going to the King, in speaking out on behalf of her people. Esther 4 v 14 is possibly one of the most well-known verses in the book ‘who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?’
As I look back over my journey as a Christian there have been clear times when God has guided and only afterward, I have sensed that God has a particular plan and purpose in mind and that I am in the position I am ‘for such a time as this’. I didn’t necessarily know that at the time but had to trust that He knew what he was doing even when it wasn’t clear or obvious to me!! How about you? Angela reminded us that God gives gifts that equip and enable us to be the right jigsaw piece – Esther needed wisdom as well as courage. They were the pieces needed to make her story complete. So, what is God saying? For each of us the message is the same ‘I love you; I am here; I can be trusted to make a beautiful picture out of your life’. Give God your piece. Di reminded us that each of us is unique, with different gifts and talents, some of us are the first piece of the puzzle and some are the last but, each piece is oh so necessary to the whole. Let’s be open to God about the picture He is wanting to create for us as individuals, households, and as a church community. It’s good for our health!