It’s like a Scramble Squares puzzle. Each side of a square puzzle piece includes the top or bottom half of an item (of, say, a kitten) and you have to rearrange the nine squares so that every top half matches every bottom half. There are many possibilities, but only one solution.
Time and time again, I have arranged eight squares beautifully, only to find that the ninth square put two kitten heads together, instead of a kitten head and its corresponding feet and tail. Ugh! Back to square one.
I think life is a lot like that puzzle. Let’s see how.
Step Two: Keep Going.
After consulting God, I would head down one path that I felt was the divine direction, only to be met with a roadblock or to have the road veer away into something completely unexpected. In the early days, these events caused concern. “Are you sure this is Your will? Did I misread Your directions?”
Suppose that as I put the pieces into place, I questioned every move that I made, and fiddled endlessly with their arrangement. Should that have been the second piece, or should I have chosen the other one?
Certainly, I might eventually arrive at the solution by complete accident, but it would take a long time and I would be wracked with fears of utter failure the whole time. Is that the best way to solve the puzzle? No.
Step Three: Allow your plans to change.
I eventually learned to stop constantly questioning my direction. My expectations and hopes never matched God’s plans for me. Plus, figuring out God’s unique will for me was a waste of time, since He constantly changed my plans anyway. I learned that it was better to simply choose a path that matched the best wisdom of myself and my parents, to commit 110% to my present course of action, yet to remain sensitive and flexible to new possibilities that the Lord might give me.
When I took the job at the toy store, for example, I expected to work there unless something drastic happened, like marrying and moving out of the area. Well, something drastic happened, but it wasn’t getting married. Some chronic health issues worsened in my 20s, and I had to cut a lot of things from my schedule—including the toy store. It was a complete shift from my plan.
Now suppose my father is a master puzzle solver, and knows exactly how to arrange the pieces. While I place the squares, he converses with me. Every once in a while, he interrupts the conversation to give advice: “Put this piece in the lower right corner.” Or: “I wouldn’t use that piece just yet. Try another one.” He doesn’t tell me how to arrange every piece, but He gives me guidance at key moments.
I think God can be like that fatherly master puzzle solver. He lets His children take some risks, explore new paths, and realize that you can’t match a head piece to another head piece. He also has a grasp of the whole picture, and offers guidance to the one who is willing both to take action and to listen. A misstep may be time wasted, or experienced gained, but it won’t destroy the final outcome, because He is a good Father.
The puzzle of unexpected twists and turns does have a solution.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.