January 26, 2016

Missing Pieces by Marnie Pohlmann

Recently at our home, we had fun making a simple puzzle. We gathered pieces with similar colours and design, turning them this way and that to join them together. Most people begin a puzzle with the edge pieces, though I have a brother who refuses to use the “easy” path of such boundaries. We also look at the box to know how the image will look when complete. As our puzzle came together, we realized there were trees and fence on both sides of the image, so pieces not fitting on my portion actually belonged in my sister's section. With Mom’s help, we figured it out and high-fived as we placed the final pieces.

Our success became dismay, though, as we realized one piece was missing. In the middle of blue sky, table showed through where a bird should be. While the picture was still beautiful, and we enjoyed the laughing and visiting together while making it, the puzzle was not quite complete.

Much like building the puzzle, each of us has a calling to do work God has prepared beforehand for us (Ephesians 2:10). We all have pieces to add to God’s picture. “Doing the work” sounds like we need to make goals and set priorities. This is good and proper, right?

At a Global Leadership Summit a few years ago, Bill Hybels taught about the 6x6, a tool he uses to move ministry forward. I found this idea practical, especially for writing. After spending time in prayer, I wrote down six specific actions for a church responsibility I felt I could complete in the next six weeks.

Over the six weeks, I saw how effectively this focused my use of time, and realized I had six things I could also do for my writers’ group. And schooling, family, other volunteer groups, work, my own writing... Soon, rather than a 6x6 plan of action, I had a 36x36 set of juggling balls, with no possibility of moving anything forward.

All these pieces are a part of my puzzle, but it is not a simple puzzle. It is a mosaic of smaller pictures coming together to form a larger design. This is not a matter of taking on pieces not mine to fit. This is a matter of needing to understand God has shaped my pieces to fit into His picture. Perhaps they belong on the other side of the table, or need another piece in place first. Sometimes I miss a piece altogether.

I often feel this way about my walk with God; something is not quite right... something is missing. The frame is strong, secure in the saving grace of Christ. Family and friends encourage me to seek God’s view of circumstances, and we have a lot of fun on the journey. Pieces of my daily walk, like reading Scripture, prayer, worship, giving, and gathering with other believers, all connect me with God and the eternal family. The Spirit has healed what I considered broken pieces of my life and shown me how Christ has redeemed each one to fit perfectly into the larger image of God’s grace.

Still, each January I take my life and the coming year to God, because I can see something is still missing. I ask for a plan of action. God has given me a characteristic of Christ, a fruit of the Spirit, or direction on how to live in community as an imperfect child of the King. I learn about character and disciplines I require to develop in God’s desire for me to grow more Christ-like as part of His bride. Thankfully, Christ still covers me with His blood and allows me to continue growing whether through failure or success. In fact, God guarantees a lifetime of growth.

This year, like the puzzle, I hear God telling me not to worry about the missing piece. Even though I have certainly not arrived at holiness and there are still many pieces to connect, God is at work. I can trust that in His time and His way, the puzzle will come together.

This is no time of rest, though. Rather, God challenges me to become comfortable with who I am - the person He created and is growing me to be. Not what circumstances have formed me to be, not what others expect me to be, and certainly not what I think I should be. The challenge is to accept, love, and act like the person God sees when He looks at me through the blood of Christ.

In writing, we may call this finding my voice. So, as I pick up this piece or that, as I turn them around or try writing them in various genres to see if they fit in this corner or on that side, as I trade pieces with others on the journey, I will consider God’s big picture, but will not worry about how much table is showing through.

The scattered pieces will come together more effectively as I live, write, and work in the areas God has prepared for me, in the way God has created me to fit. When faced with choices this year, my question will not be, what would Jesus do? My question this year is, what would Jesus have Marnie do?


  1. thanks for this inspiring post.

  2. Certainly was puzzled as I read your post. I enjoyed this metaphor, oh if only life could fit together like a puzzle with borders … but some are 3-D, some have no border pieces, many options. Yes, it certainly is not a one plan fits all peoples. Great thought-your question, what would Jesus have Marnie do? Thanks for this well crafted piece.

  3. "God challenges me to become comfortable with who I am - the person He created and is growing me to be. Not what circumstances have formed me to be, not what others expect me to be, and certainly not what I think I should be. The challenge is to accept, love, and act like the person God sees when He looks at me through the blood of Christ."
    That resonated deeply with me today. Thanks Marnie.

  4. I enjoyed and learned from you puzzle metaphor. Marnie. I love doing puzzles with others too, so I could readily identify. Doing the puzzle is a good model for life and for Christ's church. You show this in the lessons you have extrapolated from this family activity. Putting the puzzle together as a family (process) was more important than the final result (product), which was less than perfect because of the missing piece. You accepted that your brother liked to operate a different way. You and your sister discovered that you were working at the same thing from opposing sides, and you allowed your mother to bring this to your attention.

    God allows many people with different abilities and offerings to come together as his bride, the church. "What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up." (1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV)

  5. What a wonderful extended metaphor you use with the puzzle and the missing piece. And how beautiful when we can see ourselves the way God sees us and find our voice in that. I never thought of my "voice" in that way but it makes sense. Thanks.


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