Facing Giants and Jigsaw Love Letters
Every story has more to it than what meets the eye.
When I was a little girl, my grandfather sent me a letter all the way from Arizona.
When I tore open the white envelope, a sea of tiny jigsaw pieces and giggles spilled over my kitchen counter. Instead of a letter on notebook paper or stationary, Grandpa had sent me a puzzle with a note on it!
I slid my science homework aside to let my potted plant talk to it about photosynthesis, fished a couple fallen puzzle pieces out of my Rice Crispy bowl, and got right to work on my message from Grandpa.
I started with the outside first, assembling the cardboard pieces one by one until I got to the center. It wasn’t as easy there, because I had no idea what it was supposed to look like, but the structure of the outside pieces gave me the needed framework to finish the whole picture.
Most of us have heard the story about the boy who killed a nine-foot man with a single smooth stone.
David, a sheep herder from Judah, has been celebrated across the centuries for his reality-defying bravery and “impressive” resume.
But David, like every headline-hero, has more to his story than Michelangelo sculpted.
David grew up on a farm like me. He also lived in the shadow of his older brothers’ accomplishments. I know what that feels like.
He worked long lonely hours under the sun, but found joy in his music.
On the day that brought him fame, his intention was not to march into battle slinging stones. He showed up to take food to his brothers where they were fighting. They didn’t say thank you.
But it was there that he saw the giant who was terrifying David’s people. It was there, in his dusty sandals and sheep-smelling tunic, that he was called to adventure.
We know that this is the part in the story where David, the young shepard boy runs out to the frontline, toward the career-soldier, to victoriously lodge a stone into the giants brain before removing the soldier's monstrous head with his own monstrous sword.
Pretty heroic, right?
But the part we often don't hear in this tale is that this isn't David's first encounter with difficulty. While his brothers were off fighting wars, David was left alone to protect his sheep from predators. When wild dogs came for a lamb, he chased them away. When a bear came to steal from his herd, he struck it down.
He had even rescued his sheep from the jaws of a Lion.
When it came to saving his people from the sword of the giant, David was not afraid. Because the events of his life had prepared him.
God didn’t send David a letter with a to-do list featuring “Slay a 9-foot Giant” at number one. Instead, God gave David one puzzle piece at a time. Starting with the outside edges before easing into the center. David also did a lot of dumb things, and even some horrible things, dark puzzle pieces included in the picture.
I never received a gold-embossed to-do list either. The plan all along was not “1. Leave your family and everything you know to start a new life in one of the largest cities in the world.”
There was no bullet point that read “Go into a corporate company full of black-clad professionals three times your age.”
No, God gave me one puzzle piece at a time, starting with the outside edges.
When I start a puzzle, I always reach for the four corners first. Four first steps. Simple enough.
Four Corners that Prepared me for Giants:
With my four corners in place, the rest started to flow. Like the puzzle my grandpa sent me so long ago, there was no box to show me the completed picture. I had no idea where I was going, but I had my four corners firmly set into Christ. One puzzle piece after another. The people I “randomly” met helped me set the next piece. The times I fell down, or dropped a piece into my cereal, I was able to take a step back, look at my framework, and try again.
Some days I feel so ashamed and I ask God how He could use someone as worthless as me. Or how an experience that broke my heart could ever be useful. But then I remember my Grandpa and the puzzle he sent me. I remember the words “I love you,” printed in his hand in bold blue ink across the backs of many different jigsaw pieces. I remember David and the lions he killed before he ever had to step out into battle.
Maybe a few pieces to your puzzle are missing.
Maybe you’re missing the bit that shows you why your daddy was taken from you when you were ten years old. Maybe you don’t know why those kids were so mean to you in school. When are things going to start getting better, easier, happier? Maybe you haven’t found the core section of the puzzle where God has written his his love for you all over.
I haven’t found all of those pieces. But that’s what faith is. It’s believing that your puzzle isn't completed yet, and that someday you’ll be left with the most beautiful love note you’ve ever seen. Maybe you haven’t found it spelled out in blue letters, but it’s there in every crack. It’s there in every loop and every cardboard piece.
Heroes are not marble figures. They’re humans burdened by the fall.
Heroes are humans like you and me. Crafted, cultivated, and developed over years of experiences. Cherished, loved, and taken care of beyond anything we could ever imagine.