Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Jigsaw pieces, and tunnels

He was very understanding and patient with me. I had taken his wife's funeral, my first, and called on him once a week to see how he was getting on. As he trimmed a hedge, he told me he was doing fine and I no longer needed to visit.

I had fallen into the trap of feeling that my responsibility was far greater than needed. A wise book put me right. You and I place just a few pieces into the pictures of others' lives; we shouldn't attempt to do the whole thing. What a relief!

Why can't we trust God to sort things out. After all, if he created and sustains the universe, working the detail of our lives is nothing. It may be that the piece of the jigsaw that reveals the full picture is placed there by a total stranger, or a child, or just falls into place. Then the view is clear and faith blossoms.

Occasionally we have the extraordinary privilege of placing key jigsaw pieces at the right moment. Once I told an angry man, who was trapped inside his body by a stroke, that Jesus on the cross knew what it was to be unable to move. That man found a real faith that made a difference. He had fallen out with his son years before, and asked me to write to him. There was a genuine reconciliation, followed not long afterwards by death with sins wiped clean.

It also means there's no panic when it comes to timing. When the first followers of Jesus realised that he had genuinely come alive again, you'd think they would be commissioned to tell everyone. Yet Jesus told them to wait until empowered by his Spirit. In contrast, Mary, the first person to meet the risen Jesus, was told to tell others straight away.

Knowing and trusting God's timing is key. There will be periods when life is manic and our first priority is survival, looking after ourselves. It may be we can't survive without others assisting. It can feel like going into a tunnel, without any glimpse of light from the other end. There's no picture on the jigsaw lid to use as a guide, and all the pieces make a mess.

But tides turn and we will almost certainly find ourselves having opportunity to give to others. We have so much to learn from others, and a small part to play in their lives. Together we can discover more depth and beauty in God's amazing world.