I am not a fan of puzzles. Taking a perfectly good image, cutting it into one hundred or more tiny pieces and then trying to reconstruct it feels like a frustrating waste of time. But last weekend, I was selling books at a local Grange hall with my 9-year-old son, Asher, when one of the organizers kindly offered us a puzzle of a shiny green frog.
Since business was slow and I’d forgotten to bring anything to read, I sliced open the box and gave it a go. But the pieces didn’t seem to fit. No edge pieces matched the image on the box. Then, on the box’s side, I noticed a smaller picture, which showed a more complete image. Turning the box, we decided to work from that image instead.
“You’re doing it upside down.” The woman who’d given us the puzzle, stopped by to check our progress.
“It’s a fake image,” I said, pointing to the picture on the box’s side. “See? This one shows the whole picture.”
With the correct picture as our guide, Asher and I completed the puzzle. But how often, I wondered, does life fail to make sense because we too are following a false image? Maybe it’s a digitally-altered image of beauty gleaned from the pages of a fashion magazine. Or an image of home, magically transformed from dingy to delightful in 45-minutes on HGTV. If given too much clout, these images can make us feel miserable in comparison. But what about when the false image we are following is much more important, like our image of God?
Such images may spring from heavy-handed preaching weighted toward God’s wrath while ignoring his grace. Or from teachings that are excessively permissive while ignoring God’s righteousness. So, how are we to know what God is really like?
“Show us the Father,” the apostle Philip asked Jesus.
“Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am?” Jesus replied. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9 NLT).
I’ve never met the Pope, but I can easily recognize his image on TV. When it comes to God, I don’t have that luxury. What I do have is Jesus, who said, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). Or, in the words of the apostle Paul, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).
It’s curious, that as far back as the book of Exodus, God told his people not to make any carved images. Why? My guess is because God wanted to reveal his image to us himself through the life, death and resurrection of his son. So this week, as we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in preparation for Passover, consider whether the image you are following of God is the whole picture. If you’re unsure, why not take a closer look at Jesus? The pieces you are trying to fit together just might make a whole lot more sense.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Catch her this Saturday, April 13, at Shaw’s in Bath, 1 Chandler Dr., from 8 am-noon and on Wednesday, April 17, at the Patten Free Library in Bath, 33 Summer St., from 4-5 pm along with a children’s activity and copies of her new picture book The Backward Easter Egg Hunt.