The Puzzle that is ADVENT

By Karen Jones




“You are free, free, to lavishly give away your gifts when all your value, worth, joy, and riches are in the greatest of gifts.”





This statement, from Ann Voskamp's book The Greatest Gift, is so true…and so hard for me to really live. And yet it is the key to it all: to embracing Advent and Christmas, to living a life of faith, to trusting God entirely, of bringing heaven to earth just as Jesus did the night he was born in Bethlehem. In that one event God showed us how valuable we are in His eyes, and what it means to truly give of ourselves for the sake of someone else. It makes everything complete.


It reminds me of working a jigsaw puzzle. After my mom passed away, I used to sometimes have a card table set up in the corner of the living room with a jigsaw puzzle in progress. Every evening my dad and I would sit down for a time and work on the puzzle. It was a way of giving him something to look forward to and something to occupy his time. We would work faithfully, little by little, until we were down to the last few pieces. There was such a sense of satisfaction when one of us placed the very last piece and the picture was finished. I always said I was going to buy some of that puzzle glue that allows you to permanently fuse the pieces together so it can be displayed in a picture frame. It seemed like so much work to get the puzzle put together that we hated to take it all apart and put it back in the box.


Advent is a lot like that. Every year we take the puzzle box out and spend 25 days matching up jagged edges, muddied colors, unrecognizable bits of people and things, hunting for small segments of images that look like they belong to other small segments of the same image in the confusing mess of pieces we call life. We bend hunched over the table, straining to make sense of the colored cardboard confetti until the picture finally begins to come together. That’s what we’re doing all through December, waiting for that marvelous moment on Christmas morning when we finally get the last puzzle piece – Jesus – and fit it victoriously into the final empty space. It is that space that makes the picture a whole, just as He is the piece that completes our lives. The God-shaped hole in each of us in which no other puzzle piece fits. Nothing else completes the picture. And then when we gaze upon the puzzle, all the seemingly fragmented bits of hue and line meld together into something beautiful - something whole. Suddenly everything is clear, it all makes sense. All our effort has been worthwhile.


My prayer is that this year I will get my hands on that GLUE that will hold it all together. I pray that when Christmas is over, I won’t just take the puzzle apart, put it back into the box, and pack it away with all the lights and decorations until next year. I want to glue it all together and buy a beautiful frame and hang it triumphantly on the wall as a reminder of Advent - of Jesus Himself - the only piece that makes all the others form a complete work of art.


The Advent Puzzle


Whether or not you enjoy jigsaw puzzles, I hope these ponderings have a given you some food for thought into the mysterious puzzle of Advent and the miraculous completion of the puzzle on Christmas day. Be patient...keep working the puzzle piece by piece. I guarantee you it will be well worth your time!

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