Alas… we will remember the grand quarantine puzzle of Ancient Rome. What made it so difficult? Was it that we spent a lot of time and effort putting it together? Was it that we had a great expectation of seeing a finished result along with the joy of solving a difficult puzzle? So many of the pieces looked exactly alike and it was only the intricate little corners and notches that would show their differences. Those are normal puzzle problems, but this puzzle…, had a puzzle within a puzzle. When we finally reached our end (notice “our end” not “the end”) we saw seven empty spaces and six puzzle pieces. It was very obvious with one of the empty spaces that an unusual piece was missing. You know- one of those distinct pieces that has four tabs, easy to spot and easy to connect. We could quickly surmise that the easy piece must have escaped the box in one of our recent moves or was kicked down into the A/C vent by our beloved cat. But the six others were quite interesting. Interesting in that they sort of looked like they could fit, but the intricate details of each piece made it frustratingly obvious that they were not the pieces that belonged in those spaces. And yes, we did search to make sure we didn’t fit other similar ones into other spaces. Folded arms with a puzzled muzzle looking at our puzzled puzzle we were left with a deeper frustration in quarantine.

The more I thought about how this puzzle happened, the more I realized, well… this is life- my life, your life, our life. And it was meant to be this way. Ask yourself, how many times have you pondered over a scenario and sorted out how everything was going to fall in place and what that final picture was going to look like? And… did it end up looking like the picture on the box in your mind? Probably not. It may have been close, but I bet there were a few pieces that didn’t fit exactly as you thought they would. There may have been some missing too. The funny thing to me is that even though we never get it right, we still waste so much time doing it over and over again. And we get so frustrated with those pieces that do not fit… We even go to great lengths to try to make them fit, because it’s not supposed to be unfinished!

As I kept contemplating this unfinished puzzle, I knew that I was looking at a much bigger picture- a bigger truth. I felt as if God was speaking to me. He is Elohim the Creator, and He is infinite. When I think about these characteristics, I realize that He has pieces that have not been birthed yet in our stories, our puzzle. At the right time He will give us a missing piece that fits perfectly into His greater story. Every piece that He makes will fit as it was made to and will bring joy and peace. When this happens we will be in awe and not doubt that He is in control. As this process continues, and we see Him work, we will have hope and excitement in what He will do next. Life becomes an adventure because we are letting those spaces be empty and wait with anticipation and freedom that we don’t have to figure it out. The only way that we can embrace the “not being finished” is to know the “Finisher.”

So what I am going to encourage us to do is live and thrive with those empty spots in the puzzle. Be hopeful- be excited at how God will provide! He will finish the work He started! What He can bring down from the storehouse of Heaven will be so much more than we can hope for or even imagine. Let’s keep looking up, not grow weary, imagine the unimaginable, and surrender all of our heart and all that we have to the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let’s smile at the secret of the missing pieces. From here on out I will fondly remember the grand quarantine puzzle of Ancient Rome as it taught me that I am content with being puzzled because I am delighted in Jesus.

“looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is the LORD’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6

“There are some things that the LORD our God has kept secret; but he has revealed his Law, and we and our descendants are to obey it forever.” Deuteronomy 29:29

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6