by Sally Anne McLean

Before I retired, I would treat myself a few times a year to a session with a licensed muscle therapist. Even though she always saw me on time, I would arrive early. In her anteroom, instead of a rack full of outdated magazines, there was a card table set up with an unfinished, 500-piece picture puzzle scattered on its top.

Once, when I arrived, I found that the puzzle’s four outside edges had been completely framed and the interior of the picture was about half finished. The cover of the puzzle’s box, propped up on the table, showed a picture of Virginia’s Governor’s Mansion and, of course, was meant to be a guide in the completion of the puzzle. Alas, the sky was cloudless and evenly blue, the elm trees were dressed in the same shade of green, even the architectural features of the mansion (the plain brown roof, the uniformity of the red brick façade, the white shutters at every window) offered few clues as to which particular piece went where.

I would not have had to work on the puzzle at all; I could have just closed my eyes and rested for a few minutes. But the invitation to further the completion of the puzzle was silently before me, and so that is what I chose to do. I pulled up a chair, but was able to place only four pieces before the therapist appeared and gave me the happy news that the massage room was now ready for me.

I hadn’t been working on the puzzle long enough to have become frustrated. I knew that the completion of the puzzle was not expected of me; it would be enough that I would make a contribution. The next person who pulled up a chair to work at that puzzle would be grateful I had been able to place those four pieces; by reducing the number of the yet-to-be-placed puzzle pieces, I had increased the probability that he would be able to place the remaining ones.

Bringing others to Christ is somewhat like putting together a large picture puzzle. The Bible has given us an idea of what the finished product should look like. One could easily feel overwhelmed, inadequate to the task — there are so many pieces to the puzzle; there is so much to do! Teach Sunday school. Sing in the choir. Feed the homeless. Arrange the altar flowers. Serve on the council.

Here is some happy news for you — none of us is expected to do it all. When each of us takes a few minutes here and there to make whatever contribution we are able, the next person who comes along is able to build on our efforts, and — at the appointed time — the picture will be revealed. So consider yourself invited. Pull up a chair, and see which pieces of the puzzle you can put in place.

Read more of Sally Anne McLean’s work in her book,  At Faith Value: Seeing His Hand at Work in the Ordinary. It’s available on Amazon… go through the link on our Just Shopping page and a piece of your purchase will go to St. Marks!