Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Do you like filling crosswords in or putting puzzles together? Every newspaper contains at least one search-a-word or crossword puzzle. You can find a selection of crossword puzzles in just about any store; however, I like the Dollar Stores where you can purchase them for only a dollar. Whose toddler doesn’t have a stack of puzzles on the toy shelf in their room? Most homes have a closet full of jigsaw puzzles, search a word, and a Rubik’s cube to name only a few. I love to put puzzles together or try to fill in the puzzle in the newspaper and I especially like the search-a-word puzzle.
This will seem strange to you but working on puzzles is a way for me to relax and is also beneficial for my brain. I usually read through the clues of the crossword puzzle and then fill in the ones I know and the remaining white squares on the crossword grid remain disturbingly blank. Then an amazing thing happens. While reading the clues over again, I find that I can now add a few more answers. A clue that made no sense the first or second time around suddenly becomes crystal clear, once a key letter is in place.
Another puzzle of a different type would be a jigsaw puzzle. If you have ever put one of these together you know how hard it is. I received one of these puzzles for my birthday many years ago. I remember that it was a beautiful scene of a mountain cabin with smoke ascending from the chimney, the lights glowing from the windows inside and overlooked a beautiful lake. I usually start working on a puzzle putting together the border; however, with this puzzle I started at the focal point of the puzzle, which was the cabin.
Once the cabin was in place, I began to work my way out from the focal point. The shadowy middle of the puzzle was much harder to put together as the pieces were all too much alike and not easily placed in the context of the picture. I would have a piece of sky figured for part of the water, or a cloud mistaken for the mist of the mountains. I looked for connections from one piece to another, for consistency in tones and hues, for an identifiable tiny red flower or a puff of cloud, and any small detail that would provide a clue to where the piece may fit.
While working on this puzzle one wintry afternoon for nothing better to do, it occurred to me that studying God’s Word is a bit like working on a puzzle. Certain major themes stand out immediately and are easily identified and put into place. The whole of God’s Word points to Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Redeemer and Savior of the world and every phrase in the Bible is necessary for a full appreciation of the Master Artist’s grand design. This is where we start, our cabin with the lights on inside.
Fitting all the pieces of God’s Word into a big picture can seem as confusing as trying to separate the sky from the water or placing the right leaves on the right tree in the puzzle I was working on. A quick glance at the Bible or a verse out of context is no more meaningful than one or two isolated puzzle pieces without the context of the complete picture. As I study a jigsaw puzzle, I asked myself if I apply the same intense examination to God’s Word. By paying close attention, under the Holy Spirit’s direction, to each word, the context of each paragraph, the common thread linking one topic to another, I can begin to put the pieces in their right places in my understanding.
Where does the crossword puzzle fit into this analogy? We build on what we know. We fill in the answers that the Holy Spirit has shown us and use those insights as clues to the concepts we are still learning. The key to one spiritual truth often lies in our understanding of an intersecting principle.
Proverbs 2:6 states, “The LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding”. My brethren, careful and profitable Bible study has a way of filling in the blanks in our understanding and involves more than just opening to a chapter and reading what’s there. When we come across a confusing passage of Scripture, one of those recently learned concepts just might provide the key to new insight into God’s truth.
God’s Word is our guide to life, the completed picture of the pieces of life in just their right places, the clues to our life’s crossword. In order to live our lives to the glory of God, we must study His Word daily, each time adding to what we have already been taught and filling in a few more pieces of understanding. Some guidelines to help make the most of your study of God’s Precious and Eternal Word, the Bible, would be:
(1) Set aside a regular time each day. Unless you schedule it, you’ll neglect it.
(2) Before you start reading, ask God for help and understanding.
(3) Carefully think about what you are reading. Not all of the Bible’s treasures lie like pebbles on the surface. To mine the golden nuggets, you have to dig for the treasure.
(4) Seek to understand what the author was saying to the first people who read the book or letter before you decide how to apply it today.
(5) Write down at least one truth or principle you can put into practice.
(6) Try different translations of the Bible. If you find yourself skimming over familiar words, a new translation may focus your mind on the passage in a new light.
(7) Don’t get discouraged. Some parts of the Bible are more interesting than others, and some you may not understand at all. But there’s enough that you can understand, and it will transform your life if you apply it.
We will never finish our life’s puzzle because we will always have some spaces that remain empty, some pieces that just never seem to fit into our picture of what life should be; however, God hasn’t promised to give us the whole picture or all the answers as stated in Deuteronomy 29:29. The puzzle of life is one we’ll never completely solve. However, it’s our irresistible challenge to prayerfully persist in our study of God’s precious Word filling in new pieces of understanding as the Holy Spirit makes them know to us.
The Bible’s treasures are found by those who dig for them.