Puzzles. They stir up a lot of emotions.
Some people love them. Some people don’t.
I am in the “Not love them” camp myself. They are hard. There are so many pieces. And they don’t even come pre-assembled! I mean, what’s up with that?!
I know people who really enjoy puzzles. They love to look at the mess, take the time to sit there and work one piece at a time, all to build a one big picture out of 1000 random pieces.
My thing to look at in detail is the Bible. I know I am not nearly at the level of a scholar or a history theologian, but to me, the Bible is a puzzle. That means from beginning to end it all fits together and connects.
Each story has its part. Each detail has its place. All fitting together to make the big picture.
One story through which we can see this is the story of Ruth.
Now, you may be thinking, “Ruth? How does a short story like Ruth fit into the rest of the details?”
I used to think that too, until I began to see the puzzle pieces.
Ruth is a common story many of us have heard many times. It is only four chapters long, and is a great love story of the budding relationship between Ruth, a widow from Moab (not Israel) and Boaz, a man of standing among the Jewish people.
It’s a perfect love story.
A young widow taking care of her elderly mother in law, works hard all day with her hands, scrapping together what she can to support the two of them. A single, well respected, rich land owner sees her and is awestruck at first sight. He begins to woo her and provide for her. But then a crisis: There may be another caller for her name. What will Boaz do? Will he give in to the system and allow another man to scoop up this woman of noble character? Or will he rise up, stand in front of his own people, and declare that this outsider is the woman of his dreams?
I mean, who wouldn’t want to read that right?
But is that all there is to Ruth’s story? Four chapters and a happily ever after, or is that just one piece of the puzzle?
To read the Bible in a connecting sort of way, one has to do a few things.
First, you actually have to read it. All of it.
You never see a dedicated puzzler stop before they have placed every piece. In fact, if a piece is missing, they will scour the room, the kids’ rooms, and even open the vacuum to find it. They need to see the complete picture.
It’s kind of like that with the Bible. We need the whole picture. Every piece. That means we need to read the whole thing. Ruth, Psalms, the Gospels, and everything else.
Second, you have to interact with it.
As you watch a puzzler, they may put a piece or two off to the side when they can’t see where it goes yet. But then as they begin to put other parts together they realize that those side pieces now begin to make more sense. As their brains begin to gather the information from each piece, they can see how the colors blend, how the objects take shape, and how the pieces are even cut. It’s like they begin to see it from the inside.
Reading the Bible takes time, it’s a large book, and like a puzzle, some pieces make more sense as you put other details together. It’s important to allow yourself the grace and the time to see the bigger picture. It’s a building process. As you get more into it, you begin to see the details from an inside perspective.
Third, you have to connect the pieces.
A puzzler always keeps in mind what they are looking for. That way, when they see an area of the puzzle develop, they will know what else to connect into it. As they put each piece in place, they begin to see the big picture.
As you read the Bible and interact with it, you will begin to see how one verse will remind you of another verse. Sometimes this will happen in the same chapter or book, and sometimes in a completely different book. By connecting these pieces, you begin to develop a cross reference (this is a fancy term for how one verse reminds you of another verse and you see they are connected). As these connections add up, you begin to see the bigger picture.
Now let’s take this back to the book of Ruth and see how it connects to other areas of the Bible.
So what about you? What are you reading right now in your Bible? Does any of it remind you of other Scriptures?
Interact with it.
Connect the pieces from beginning to end.
It may be hard, and it will take time, but as the puzzle grows, so will THE BIG PICTURE.