I’ve just finished the jigsaw puzzle I started at Christmas. Very late one night I had about a dozen pieces of tree that all looked the same. By trial and error I put the pieces into place. It was impossible to see whether they matched, apart from whether they fitted into the pieces around them. They all seemed to fit neatly until it came to putting in the last piece, and that didn’t. It was obvious now that I’d put some of the other pieces in the wrong places and there was no solution but to take all the surrounding tree pieces out and try again. But I was determined to get the puzzle finished before I went to bed!
Sometimes our lives can be like a puzzle picture where all the pieces seem to fit unless we look closely and then we see the mismatches, or until something happens that quite clearly doesn’t fit where it should. We then realise that the picture of our lives is incomplete, imperfect and if we want to find a peace and harmony in our lives there is no solution but to have a good look at what’s going on and find the right order.
This month sees the beginning of Lent, the six and a half weeks before Easter when Christians traditionally prepared for the festival that commemorates the death and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a ‘penitential’ season in which we’re encouraged to look closely at the picture of our lives that are like pieces of a puzzle, often put together in wrong ways and with bits missing. We see that however hard we’ve tried (but to be honest sometimes we don’t try that hard) we haven’t loved God, our fellow human beings or the world in which we are given to live, as well as we should. Our selfish actions, words and thoughts can be deliberate or unintended, the result is the same. Sometimes we’ve neglected to do good things.
The letter in the middle of sin is an ‘I’, a reminder that sin is anything and everything self centred. For the pieces of our lives to fit together to make the perfect picture we need to be God centred. We are called, male and female, to be ‘sons’ of God, The middle letter of son is an ‘o’ for others. Jesus was supremely the ‘man for others’, the Son of God. He gave his life so that all others may be forgiven their sin and put into the right place with God in an eternal and ultimately perfect life. Jesus also gives us his Spirit to work out that life here on earth, getting the pieces of the picture of our lives to fit together.
Of course, looking at the picture of our lives in God’s light is something we need to do all through the year, but Lent is a good place to start. My prayer for us all is for the determination to get that picture right.