In my upstairs hallway, this framed puzzle sits on the wall and collects dust. If you were a new visitor to my house, you would probably ho and hum past it without a second thought. It would have no significance to you whatsoever. You would have to guess at what story the puzzle is telling, if you understood it was telling a story in the first place.
If the puzzle was in pieces, you may be able to tell a distinct feature or two. Maybe you would see a screwdriver head or a bubble from the foam in the latte. But still you wouldn't be able to interpret any sort of meaning from those features. Not without the rest of the picture.
On the morning of January 16th, 2010, Tim took me out to breakfast to eat the most GINORMOUS pancakes I have ever seen in my life. After we ate, he gave me a love letter in an envelope that also contained some pieces to a puzzle. Throughout the day, we went to several different meaningful locations to us and in each location, he gave me yet another letter and yet another set of puzzle pieces. In each letter, he explained why he thought we were better together than apart, what he saw in me that he loved so much, and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. At the end of the day, he gave me a final set of pieces and we sat down to put the puzzle together. One side was a latte heart that I had texted him during in our dating relationship, like a true twitterpated college barista. On the other side was a screwdriver heart that he had sent me back. He had overlaid the hearts in true mechanical engineer style, in a Venn Diagram. They overlapped over a center piece that was missing. He completed the puzzle by placing a piece with a cross in the center of our two hearts. Christ in the center of our overlapping hearts. On top of the cross, he placed an engagement ring and asked me to be his wife.
Every year, we celebrate Pancake Day, January 16th. We take the puzzle off the wall and sneeze at the years accumulated dust. We eat pancakes together next to the framed puzzle and tell each other the story again. We remind each other why we are better together and what God has done through and with our small piece of His Kingdom Puzzle.
Now if you walked past that puzzle in my house, it would mean something to you. Now you know the whole story.
The Bible is like that. In studying the book, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin I realized that you can't simply glance at the Bible and expect to know its meaning or be moved by it without knowing the history behind it. You can't simply take out a piece of it and expect it to understand it in full. God wrote us a story. He gave us a puzzle. With each piece, He is pursuing us in love, wooing us to himself, showing us himself. When you know the author of a book, the people and their stories for whom the book was originally intended, the landscape of the place in which they lived, they're historical culture, the type of literature of the book, you will experience the richness and meaning God intends for us as well. You will move from being a spectator to being a character in the story yourself. The puzzle will begin connecting and jumping out at you from the wall. You will be drawn in. God's story will become your story because your story will be enveloped in His. And Christ will be at the center of our overlapping hearts.
Ask "So what's the story behind this?" Get curious. Dig in. You might just discover a love story.