I love object lessons. Sitting in my pew during the church's 25th anniversary, I was thinking back over all the things I had learned in that pew over the years. I happened to think about the words of a Christian apologist who had made the observation that other religions are basically manuals describing varying systems of works that are needed to reach up to God. Christianity is not the same in that regard. It holds that works can not get us to God. God had to come down to us in the form of Jesus. It is impossible to earn one's own salvation.
As I pondered the wonder of salvation by grace, not by works, the idea for how to illustrate of this flashed into my mind. A puzzle, that is seemingly impossible to unlock by one's own effort, and yet unlocks effortlessly when placed in a different type of force field! I would make the puzzle with two interlocking pieces of wood; the well known symbol of the Christian faith. It suddenly became my passion to the design of the puzzle, build a working model, and begin using it as… you guessed it… an object lesson! Along the way I would incorporate physics, mathematics, engineering and scripture to provide a full-bodied illustration of this central theme of the Gospel.
The wood for the Large, Classic CrossPuzzles grows in the hardwood forests of Northern Pennsylvania. It is harvested and quarter sawn at a local saw mill. This is a sawing technique that enhances the beautiful grain structure of the wood. It is then kiln dried and distributed by Mark Kidd Lumber near Green Lane, Pennsylvania.
I mill the wood to precise sizes and use special jigs to ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together properly. The finished parts are coated with a protective coating of polyurethane. Old fashioned nails are added to the base to serve as a decorative holder for the colorful instruction sheet. Green felt lines the pocket of the base to hold the cross securely and adds a splash of contrasting color and texture.