This is a photo of the puzzle I just threw out. (You can watch on Instagram.)
Why did I throw away my unfinished puzzled? Because I used up all the pieces in my box and (as you can see), there were LOTs of pieces missing. I always store our puzzles on foam boards under the couch, but I have triple checked all of the couches and no missing board. Surely, my puzzle isn’t supposed to look like THIS at the end.
I’ve invested HOURS into a puzzle that has huge sections missing, which kind of reminds me of life right now.

What’s Missing?

I have now clocked five decades on this planet. And for most of that time, I’ve been laboring over the pieces of my life and trying to create something beautiful. Or at least a life that seems “put together.” But this year, I’m noticing that—with relatively few “pieces” left, I still have big sections missing. Surely, my life isn’t supposed to look like THIS, is it?
Any other fifty-somethings (or whatever age you are) wondering the same thing? What’s missing in your life? What are the un-put-together parts?
  • Your body shape?
  • Your house?
  • Your relationships?
  • Your career?
This is the time of year when people often roll their sleeves up and get back to work, putting things together. They start diets and sign up for trainings and go to counseling and start home improvement projects—getting back to work on a “puzzle” that they’re never going to finish.
Others just shrug and live with the brokenness, which is a little like gluing up a puzzle with gaping holes and calling it good.
What GOD called good was his original design for life—kinda like my puzzle’s box lid.

The Box Lid Version

One day God will put everything back the way He intended. No missing pieces or sections. He’ll restore all that is broken and put the world together, in a way that mirrors the box lid perfection of Eden. So if that picture perfect world is what we—the ones who are “in Christ”—have to anticipate, why are we laboring over the puzzle with the missing pieces?
I’m not suggesting you and I throw our lives away like I did with that puzzle. But maybe we should spend less time agonizing over the ways we’re still not “put together” and more time focusing on the “boxtop lid”—anticipating the day all will be put right.
It’s clear that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. The world is broken, and things have gone missing. So it makes sense that in our lives, things are missing. Things are painful and frustrating, but I think they’re even more painful and frustrating when we just return to the puzzle board and act like we can finish it.

Slicing off the Ends

I don’t know exactly why this is, or how it started, but when Christians today think of the story that the Bible tells, we often slice off the ends of the story (I talked about this in Episode 7 of Live Like It’s True). We tend to start the story with the snake deceiving Eve in Genesis 3, and culminating the story at the cross of Jesus, and the birth of his church. But what about before the Fall? Genesis 1-2 is like the box lid. It’s lovely, and we should look at it more often. We should dream about what God had in mind.
And in Revelation we get a glimpse into the next part of the story, which mirrors the beginning. The new creation will resemble God’s original creation, and we should spend more time anticipating it! Do you dream about your life after death? Do you imagine how it will feel to be whole? Do you long for the day when your life is made new by God?

The Old and New

Last weekend, I realized that there were never going to be enough pieces to finish this puzzle. Batman was completely missing. And so was the big red car. So I bought another puzzle which came yesterday, thinking I could just sort through and find the missing pieces to add in. But I quickly realized that was never going to work because the new puzzle was cut differently than the old one. They didn’t match up.

So I did the only thing there was to do: I threw the old one away and got started on the new. And this, I’m realizing, is what I’m called to do in my Christian life. I’m not supposed to try to redeem my old life; I’m supposed to live a new life. The old life is framed by fear, greed, self-focus, and trying to measure up. The new puzzle is filled with peace, security, joy, and hope. Why would I keep laboring over the old one, when the new one has arrived?

Now, if I suspected the new box had missing pieces, too, there’s no way I’d start all over. And it’s like that with my new life, too. If didn’t have confidence in God or the new life to come, I’d put all my attention on the here and now. But this new life has something the old life doesn’t: HOPE.

I have full confidence that one day, all the pieces of God’s beautiful intention for all of us will come together. Think of it. All the pieces that He scattered about in Eden will one day be mine and yours to discover and experience! Our lives will be forever complete.

Hope for What’s Missing

So yes, there are broken parts of my life. Huge gaping holes that may never get filled. And I could bend over those sections with an aching neck and frustrated fingers, trying to find a way to make things seem more put-together. But since this old life is passing away, I’d rather put my hope and attention on the new life, which lives inside me. Wouldn’t you?

And that’s exactly what God told us to do. “Set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.” (Col. 3:2)

I only have a box lid picture of things above, when I set my mind on it, it reframes everything that’s missing in the here and now.

What pieces are missing in your life? What are you looking forward to understanding in the life to come? Do you have this new life? If not, here’s how to find it. 

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