I am very close to my cousin who is just a year younger than me. Growing up, we spent many weekends together at my aunt’s place doing practically anything that children may do back then – pretend play, cycling and hide-and-seek just to name a few. This was all before personal devices were in the hands of both adults and children alike, of course.
In secondary school, our projects moved to activities that provided more challenge and it wasn’t long before we chanced upon a 1000-piece jigsaw that would form an awesome image of the solar system. I remember our excitement as we carried the box holding those 1000 loose fragments back home, each rustle beckoning the moment when we would frame the completed piece to hang on a wall somewhere. What I wasn’t prepared for was my cousin’s suggestion to complete the puzzle without looking at the reference image on the box when we poured the pieces on the table just as we began. It seemed like an incredulous suggestion. I remember thinking to myself that we would not last three days attempting that.
No idea where to start
The process was painful, to say the least. I had no idea where to start. I would pick a piece and aimlessly pick another one to see if it fits. Soon I went for the ones with more prominent colours that would form the planets and ignored the pieces that would form the blanket of stars. And then there were the pieces that were just completely black. Great. I scorned at my cousin’s idea to complete it without a visual guide.
Every piece that I took was hovered around a few others that might provide a fit based on colour, pattern and shape. Finding a fit between two pieces provided a short burst of relief. Forming a larger image with a few pieces gave hope that we were a step closer to forming even larger images. Eventually, when several large images were done, there was this sense of certainty that it would be completed, no matter what. And that brought peace as we silently worked out the last piece of the puzzle to complete the 1000-strong image of the solar system. That brought joy. Unadulterated pride and joy.
God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave them to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ’s body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere.
Whenever I think about the way that my life has unfolded thus far, I would somehow recall my experience of piecing the jigsaw puzzle without a visual guide. At times I have no idea where to begin. More often than not, I am feeling my way around by trying to make sense of what is happening around me to the best of my ability. But when things start to fit, I experience hope, peace and joy. And at the end, it is always good.
Letting Jesus Lead
In our call to be disciples of Christ, we are invited every single waking moment to grow in our relationship with Him so that we may make Him the leader of our lives. Every now and then, a young person who joins me in my journey with God would ask me how I lead my life as a disciple and I would tell him/her “I try not to”. I let Him lead. This meant that I defer to Him to guide me in the decisions that I have to make, both big and small. Like the task of completing the jigsaw without a visual reference, I do not know what to expect at the end of the road. The key difference, however, is that it doesn’t mean I don’t have a guide. He will always be my Guide.
In our role as educator and leader, there are so many things that we have to do – “How am I going to complete my marking if I have to spend so much time to help this group of students?”, “How can I get through to this kid who just isn’t interested in class?”, “How do I tell my colleague that he needs to pull his weight?, “How do I help my teacher manage her time better?”. Yet so often I catch myself not asking the only question that matters – “What are you calling me to do, Lord?”
We are always tempted to depend more on our own human means than let Him lead. This in part is the result of becoming effective and efficient people thanks to the wonderful training we have received in Singapore. If we are to be disciples of Christ, then it helps to remind ourselves to follow Him. The more we give of ourselves and more to Him, the more we understand what it means to be a disciple. This will then in turn help us make more disciples when we are able to share with our students and colleagues what it means to follow Christ.
Encountering the resurrected Christ, as an Educator
As I prepare to re-encounter the resurrected Christ, the word that I am invited to pray more deeply with is integrity. It is a prompt to reflect how much I have kept true to my call and mission in the world. As educators, we might be familiar with the first MOE Corporate Value ‘Integrity, the Foundation’ and what the word integrity means in that context. Few of us may know that the word integrity has its roots in the Latin word integritatem which means soundness, wholeness, completeness. Can we perhaps build a more holistic understanding of that value to think about how we might invite Jesus into our lives to make the very core of our being (Foundation) more complete (Integrity)?
Like the 1000-piece jigsaw of our lives, which pieces do we need to help us complete the entire picture?
Are we aware of the hand that God has in helping us in this process?
Are we allowing ourselves to be a piece of His jigsaw puzzle?