The Black Puzzle

The spotlight is bright and invasive.  It intrudes without invitation on the poor child who labors beneath its heat.  She wipes her brow in fatigue, conscious of the audience who watches her superhuman effort.  She is used to the pressure.  She is a child resigned to the task of putting together this difficult jigsaw puzzle amidst the glare of spectators.

The puzzle is not age appropriate.  It is far too advanced for her, for anyone in fact, but she does not know it.  She has toiled beneath it since birth.  The puzzle pieces are all black and when fitted together form no picture.  Only a square of black.  How senseless, yet this is her life’s work.  When she makes a little progress fitting together a few pieces, and begins to feel encouraged, more pieces are offered to her from her audience.  She accepts them, for she does not know she can refuse.  The pressure mounts as she is in touch with the pressure of finishing the job.  It seems futile.

She hears footsteps behind her.  Companionship on the stage?  Here’s a new concept.  She shades her left eye with her hand to cut through the glare of the light, and when she does, she sees God approach her circle.  He comes toward her slowly. “How are you doing with the puzzle”, He asks.  She shrugs in despair and her shoulders heave in defeat.

“Would you like to see the puzzle I have for you?” He inquires.

“You mean, I’m not doing your puzzle?” she asks in surprise.

“Oh, no…my child.” With that, He reaches down, picks up a handful of pieces, and says, “These pieces belong to someone else’s puzzle.  No wonder you’re having trouble.” And He places them outside the circle.

“And no wonder these are too difficult.  They belong to your friends.” On and on this process is repeated.  God continues to fill the cup of His hand with the black fragments and place them outside her world where they belong.  Soon the circle of light is clean of all traces of her demanding puzzle.

“Now,” God says with glee, as He rubs His hands in anticipation, “let me show you your puzzle.” The air is charged with promise, yet she feels a hint of reserve as she wonders if she has aptitude for this new assignment.  From behind His back, He produces three large, bright, yellow puzzle pieces.  With a twinkle in His eye, He hands them to her.  She is mildly insulted and starts to laugh, thinking this is surely a joke.

“But, this can’t be my puzzle”, she says.  “It’s too easy!”

“Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” He recites as slowly as if He just thought of the words.

“But,” she stammers incredulously, “I’ll be finished with this in no time.  A matter of a minute or two.  And then what will I do?”

God isn’t surprised in the least by her wonderment.  He relishes the moment, making each second count, savoring the experience of delivering simple, earth-shattering truths.  “Well,” He says, “then we’ll have time to be together and play.”

He watches her squint her eyes and try to process this new line of thought.  But something is getting in the way.  Something that rises up within her; an ugly revelation of truth that cannot be ignored.  It is the truth of her experience that demands airing.  “You’ve forgotten,” she says.  “I don’t know how to play!”

Her retort doesn’t surprise him, only saddens Him as He thinks of her times under the spotlight, day after day, laboring to do a task not fit for any human, much less his tender child.  “Hmm, don’t know how to play?” He rubs his chin in thought.  Then just as quickly He adds, “I know of a litter of gray, tiger kittens outside in the field.  Want to go see them?”

He waits for what He knows will be her reaction.  Fashioned in her, by His own hands, is a love and deep enjoyment of tabby cats.  Grey tigers, He knows, brings her deep pleasure.

Eyes light up.  Spotlight is forgotten.  The flash of yellow pieces can be seen as they are rapidly joined together deftly by her fingers.  Jumping to her feet with her hand extended, she can be heard calling to him excitedly, “Come on, let’s go!”

God laughs with deep pleasure.  The spotlight is empty now.  Hand in hand, the two leave all tasks and the pressure that accompanies them.  The One who clasps her hand tightly speaks a final thought, “Dear child, you’ll know you’re doing someone else’s puzzle when we don’t have time to be together and play.”

She knows she’ll spend the rest of her life sorting and discarding black puzzle pieces and trading them in for the joy of yellow ones.

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