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But even though we have the picture, a jigsaw puzzle can still only be solved one piece at a time with great patience and perseverance. Similarly the church. There are lots of things that need to come together for the church to be a healthy church, but we can’t tackle all the challenges at the one time. Jesus builds his church piece by piece, and so we see it slowly and patiently begin to come together over time.
The best way to begin a jigsaw puzzle is to focus on the border first. This gives a sense of perspective and order for where the rest of the pieces fit. Churches work the same way. We need a set of boundaries or agreed ways of operating together to give us a sense of perspective, security and order. Doing so avoids floundering and uncertainty and helps us know where we are going and how we can contribute.
Sometimes you have a piece of puzzle that you know fits somewhere, but where is a mystery for a long time. It is only when other pieces are in the place that it can be placed in its unique position. It is the same with some ministries and people within the church. It is not immediately obvious how they fit into the body of the church. But God hasn’t made a mistake! There is place for everyone no matter how old or young, inexperienced or experienced, gifted or not. However, it is only when others are doing their bit that everyone can find their rightful position.
I’ve found that the longer I work on a puzzle, the more familiar I become with the pieces and the more able I am to discern the subtle uniqueness of each piece. Patterns begin to emerge and I the pieces seem to fall into place. The same is true with the church. Over time we begin to appreciate each other and start to see the patterns and subtleties of what God is doing in our life together.
Finally, there are times when you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere, nothing is working and you get somewhat frustrated. The best thing to do is to take a break. Surprisingly things look different when you return. There are many times in church life when we need to sit back, have a good pray opening our hearts to God, try again to see the big picture, and begin to relax. Then once we reengage, God can show us things we hadn’t seen before and the way ahead starts to become clear.
I anticipate we’ll take one out a jigsaw puzzle this coming Christmas/New Year holiday period and enjoy working on it together. What about you?
Stephen L Baxter
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