The Salvation Army URL has changed to

Find out more

The jigsaw principle

5 July 2022

The jigsaw principle

Developing strategies to get where we want to go

Words Belinda Davis

When I was growing up, one of my favourite adverts on television was of Australian artist Pro Hart recreating one of his famous dragonfly artworks on carpet using food instead of paint. It featured a cleaning lady coming in to find it and her memorable line, “Oh, Mr Hart … what a mess!” 

I am a big fan of Pro Hart’s painting style and was delighted to visit his studio in Broken Hill (NSW) in 2016. There I saw his creative space, along with a variety of painted objects, including his cars. 

I purchased a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of one of his dragonfly paintings, which remained unopened for a couple of years before I felt brave enough to give it a go in 2019. 


I managed to complete the edges, but then progress stopped for several months before I packed it up, feeling completely defeated by the random squiggles of paint colour on the beige carpet background. 

Having recently had a renewed motivation to complete jigsaw puzzles, I decided to give the dragonfly one more go. Now, I take the time at the start of the puzzle to sort the pieces into colour categories when I am separating edges from the inner pieces. Taking this extra preparation time at the beginning rewards me with less time and effort needed during the puzzle’s formation. 

I have also learned that, with the more complex puzzles, if I take progress photos, I can soon determine that I am actually making progress. It is so easy to feel like any effort has produced little result without these comparison photos and to get disheartened. 

Using these two strategies, I completed this challenge in just 11 days! This was such a stark contrast to my previous attempt that lay dormant after an initial burst of effort. 


How often in life do we feel like we are not making any progress and give up altogether? For me, it is all too easy to believe that my time and effort in a variety of areas is fruitless, and it’s not worth continuing. 

Often, it is perception, not reality. 

For most of us, nothing of value comes easily. It should take time, focus and concentrated effort, otherwise we diminish its worth. If it arrives without blood, sweat and tears, it can be more readily discarded. 

In the Bible, wise King Solomon from a couple of thousand years ago wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes chapter 9, verse 10). I believe he knew that there is a human tendency to lose interest and momentum when things get a little hard

If we apply my jigsaw principle, a little bit of preparation and tracking progress will help lead to a successful outcome. God has created us to achieve great things, but they will not land in our laps. There is effort we need to apply if we wish to reach the full potential he has for each of us. 

Experience has shown me this is true, even in something as simple as a jigsaw puzzle, and I know it can be true for you too. 

What project will you apply this principle to? 

Major Belinda Davis is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in South Australia. She blogs at


No comments yet - be the first.

Leave a Comment

- Will not be published

Email me follow-up comments

Default avatarWould you like to add a personal image? Visit to get your own free gravatar, a globally-recognized avatar. Once setup, your personal image will be attached every time you comment.