Lord of the Missing Pieces—Part One
Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep (Luke 15:7).
For a present this last Christmas, I gave my boys a 500 piece puzzle. It was cool because it had glow in the dark tigers in the puzzle that couldn’t be seen unless, of course, it was dark. We had gone down to our cabin for a short vacation and during our stay, we decided to tackle the puzzle. Not surprisingly, my boys were quickly disenchanted with the whole process. I on the other hand was enjoying fitting the pieces together and watching the image come together. Every night, after the kids and my wife had gone to bed, I would sit enjoying the quiet whilst puzzling away. Our final night there, I completed the project; all except for one piece. I wasn’t too surprised as a number of times my kids had knocked pieces off of the table and I reasoned it had to be somewhere close but it was late and so I determined to find it in the morning as we were preparing to leave. So the next morning, cup of coffee in hand, I began searching… and searching… and searching. I moved the table. I looked under the carpet. I swept the floor. I lifted the couch to look underneath. I ran my hand down inside the couch. But no matter how hard I looked the missing piece refused to be found.
When the cabin was clean and it came time to leave, the piece still was not found. So back in the box the unfinished puzzle had to go. Then on the outside of the box I wrote a note, “Missing One Piece.” As we drove away I was troubled by an unresolved frustration. I really don’t like missing pieces. And as I simmered in frustration, my mind drifted to the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep. A woman loses one of ten coins and so lights a lamp and sweeps the floor carefully until she finds it. And when she does, rejoicing she calls her friends to celebrate. A man, missing one of his 100 sheep, leaves the 99 and goes in search of the one. And when he finds the sheep he joyfully puts it on his shoulder and returns calling together his friends to celebrate with him that his sheep has been found. In both cases Jesus says that in the same way, there will be rejoicing in heaven over the one sinner who repents. I really enjoy these parables because I find it very easy to identify with the coin and the sheep. I often feel that I am the one who is lost. And the thought that God searches unrelentingly for me (and for everyone else) is comforting. As I continued to drive down the highway and the Colorado Mountains passed by in all of their glory I found myself wondering: At the end of time will God have to close the box and write on the outside, “Missing One Piece”?
Rob Schmidt, pastor of worship and arts