Listening to God: A Few Puzzling Questions to Ask Yourself

[H]ave you discovered how God speaks to us at the strangest times and in the strangest places? Being quiet and listening to God is a whole other story. I just spent the past few days in Post Falls, Idaho with one of my best friends. His family has a condo over the Spokane River, so when he asked me to get away for a “guys retreat” (i.e. he and I) for a few days, it took me all of 3.2 seconds to pray about going. I learned long ago that getting away to listen to God and enjoy His creation is good for my heart and soul.

When we arrived, I found this puzzle (yep, that’s the one!) on a small table next to a window overlooking the river, snow-covered mountains and a beautiful pine forest in the distance. I’m not much of a puzzle guy, but over the next couple days, I jumped in.  This puzzle prompted me to ask a few questions that, for me at least, I found worth listening to…

As I worked on the lemons, then the leaning books, and finally the blue earthen flower pot, I began to make a number of observations that I think have a lot to do with art, life and faith.

1. Much of what we do is the result of others who have come before us. When I stood in front of the puzzle for the first time, someone had obviously taken it out of the box and started it. Much of what we put our hands to is the result of someone who has built before us. How might this make us more humble and appreciative?

2. Puzzles are supposed to be puzzling. (Profound, right?)
As I searched for the different pieces, I was reminded that there’s a bit of an art figuring out how a puzzle works. Again, someone had already done the hard work of finding and arranging all the outer pieces. Now, I had to look for lights and darks, all having subtle differences. God has already placed the borders of our lives. There is a very large playing field in between. We do have a bit of work to do filling in the middle. Who is God calling me to be and what is He calling me to do?

3. How often do we consider how much we benefit from Someone else’s creativity?
I need to ask myself this more often. I was grateful to play with a puzzle and watch the snow fall gently on the river. But, I didn’t make the puzzle or the amazing creation out the window. How often am I grateful to God and others?

4. When tired, in doubt or confused, step away.
When I became stumped after hitting a few dead ends, I was amazed that the mere act of walking away and coming back later, the puzzling problem seemed to resolve itself. I made more progress stepping away than trying to nail the problem it right away. Give it 24 hours. What puzzle piece do I need to let go of and drop in the hands of God?

5. Share the work.
Leaving Idaho, my performance-oriented nature was a bit disappointed because I didn’t complete the puzzle. Maybe it’s not all up to me? Maybe it’s not my job to finish the puzzle? Maybe I need to allow others the joy of completing what someone else started? Who?

There’s certain things we’re meant to finish and other things Someone else is meant to finish. I think it all starts with listening. I’ll leave you with a favorite verse of mine.

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.Philippians 1:6

I’d love your comments and yes, questions!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • Jim Kane

    Very insightful. Reminds me of the “cloud of witness” from Hebrews. Thanks!

    • Joey O’Connor

      Thanks Jim…Hebrews 12 is one of my favorite chapters. Glad to hear you were encouraged. Blessings to you!

  • Billie

    I needed your insight to know that “my puzzle” is exactly where it should be at the moment. There are pieces that only God can put in place; and an appreciation for the creativity and pieces already put in place by others.
    Knowing that God is faithful to complete the work He began was confirmed here also.
    Thank you!

    • Joey O’Connor

      Thanks Billie. That’s wonderful to hear your puzzle is exactly where it needs to be right now. I’m often reminded how this whole process involves a lot of mystery and that God does not reveal all His cards. It’s what keeps us moving forward in faith, right? Thanks for posting!

  • DorRae

    “What piece of the puzzle do I need to let God have?” a question I will ponder on today. Thanks for your words.

    • Joey O’Connor

      It’s a question I need to ask myself throughout the day as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Allie

    I’m working on a piece today for a meeting tomorrow and this really speaks to me. Especially about the middle pieces. You see, others went before me and lived these incredible lives and they’ve left me with a legacy of storytelling they didn’t quite get to tell. It’s a bit daunting trying to fill in the blanks for them, telling the stories they left in a way that captures their essence and message. I saw Ghost Town this morning and it reminds me of this puzzle theory of yours–there were these wandering souls that couldn’t let go because there were loose ends that needed to be explained. There were missing pieces of a puzzle and it was up to the living to deliver the goods. Thanks, Joey, as always for sharing your insight. 

  • Joey O’Connor

    I’m glad this piece on listening to God was helpful to you today Allie and I hope you’re meeting goes well tomorrow.Your post here perks all sorts of ideas in my head…intriguing reflections you offered…yes, there are so many puzzle pieces to so many stories out there. For me, I definitely need God helps to figure out where so many of them fit! Blessings to you!

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