Friday, January 13, 2012

Unsewing the Seams of Sin

        She would start with nothing but a pattern and a cut of fabric. Her fingers would measure and cut and pin. The pedal on the machine would click as her foot pressed and released it making the needle pull the delicate string. Her old olive green office chair would creak and moan as she readjusted her posture after hours of sitting in it.
       The fabric, that began, as nothing would soon be a treasured creation of hers to be worn by me on Easter Sunday morning.
        Occasionally, I would hear the seam puller rip through stitches knowing she wasn’t pleased with a seam. It had to be perfect, so she would rip and sew until perfection was reached.
       Her hands would tug and pull and sew and pin the fabric, and the machine would hum and click until, finally, my Easter Sunday dress was just the way she envisioned.
       I would model it and twist and twirl fancying in my Easter best. I loved my dress. But more than the dress, I loved the dressmaker.
       The ripping and cutting and piecing together were time consuming and took patience, and she had it…lots of it. 
        Even when I complained that I was tired of trying on the dress for alterations and hem length measurement, she was diligent in her persistence, so that I would have the perfect dress.
      The process of any creation is often painful. The mending and pulling and ripping away what isn’t useful is hard, but it is necessary in order to create perfection.
       As sinners, our fabric is stained and frayed, and unable to hold a straight stitch. We struggle with straight lines and perfect hems. We pull the thread of sin, winding it deep within our core.
        God is constantly altering our seams. He tugs and pulls the fragments of our imperfect pieces.     His fingers are deliberate as He rips the sins we have sewn into the fabric of our lives. He is the seamstress, and we are His fabric…His creation.
      The perfection process is painful, because He exposes the crookedness of our sin and the zigzag patterns of our thread.
     We get tired of the process of this sewing and mending and pulling. But He keeps on until we give in to His hands…the hands that ultimately create what is perfect and without flaws.
     And I want what He is sewing: A one-piece creation that is woven in Him. In Christ, we are never frayed or torn. All pieces are made whole and new. In Him, we become the perfect Easter dress.
     My step-mother taught me through those Easter dresses about yearning for what is good and righteous...about being patient with the process of perfection. And how sometimes, exposing the ugly seams is painful, but ultimately pulling and tugging at the misshapen fabric that is made from our sin is what brings the glory that He has for us.
     While I am pricked with needle sticks, and my fabric is still frayed, I yearn for His perfect seams and will keep allowing the process of His perfecting the imperfect, so that I will eventually become the perfect Easter dress.
      “...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

A Must See

A friend of mine just posted this video on her facebook,  and I love it! My favorite lines are "I spent my whole life building this facade of neatness, but now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness. Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean. It's not a museum for good people, it's a hospital for the broken. Which means I don't have to hide my failure or hide my sin. It doesn't depend on me, it depends on HIM."


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Just Spinning My Wheel

I saw a quote of Martin Luther’s this weekend on the back of a t-shirt that I loved. It said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Do you ever have days like that? Do you ever have days when your to-do list seems impossible to complete and overwhelming just to think about?
Do you ever have days when you speed through the day trying to accomplish all there is to do, and when nighttime falls, you wonder exactly what all you did that day?
As a single mother, my plate is often overflowing with things I need to get done. There is laundry, homework, housework, bills that need to be paid, and somewhere in there, I have to work.
I am not complaining at all as I know others that have much more to do than I. But sometimes, the days can just run together, and I end up feeling like I have been running on a hamster wheel…expending lots of energy, but getting nowhere.
There is a distinct difference in the quality of my days when I spend my first waking moments with God reading His word and praying. I am able to slow down and live through the moments of my day with ease and enjoyment rather than hurried and flustered.
On the mornings that I sleep too late and have to rush to get my kid to school and myself to work, I feel like I am missing something all I just can’t seem to get it together. 
I have come to know that I need that time in the morning when it is just God and I…when there is no one else around to distract me. I become centered on His will and am filled with a peace in what can otherwise seem like a crazy day.
I don’t want to look back one day and think, “What was I so busy doing that I didn’t take time to just enjoy life?”
I believe God is about the small details of our lives, as well as the big life-changing details. God wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives.
When my morning time is spent concentrating on a relationship with God, my day becomes less about to-do lists and frantic chaos. I can fully trust that God and I can handle whatever comes my way.
             The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peaceful hand of the one who created us can calm our anxieties and worries.
Our time is short here, and not a moment is guaranteed. I want to make the most of it enjoying the people I love  and learning to seize every moment rather than drowning in the chaos that keeps God at a distance and me in a state of worry.
             This week, I pray you will pencil in on your to-do lists some quiet time with God, so that He can fill you with the peace that transcends all understanding.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rockin' in a boat of fear

     Imagine with me for a moment, the scene of Jesus and the disciples as they were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee during a horrific storm.
     The Bible details the event as quite frightening to the disciples. Yet, Jesus was asleep during the turbulent waves and rocking of the boat. The waves crashed over the side of the boat, and I can imagine that the disciples feared certain death.
     Several of the disciples were fishermen by trade, so they were used to rocky seas. However, this storm was unlike any they had ever seen.
     The disciples awoke Jesus and asked him if He was just going to let them drown in the horrible storm. 
     There are two things that are important to point out here. First, although Jesus was asleep, He was never unaware of what was happening on that boat. Second, fear overcame the disciples and created doubt in who Jesus claimed to be.
     When Jesus spoke the words, “Quiet! Be still” to the storm in Luke 4:39,  the wind died down and it was completely calm. Jesus then questioned why the disciples had such little faith.
Unfortunately, I have been like the disciples during turbulent times of my life. In the uncertainty of the moment, I have questioned Jesus’ intentions and thought He was surely not paying attention to what was happening in my life.
     The fear of the unknown has riddled me so, that instead of trusting that Jesus knew better than I, I have taken matters into my own hands. Thus, creating bigger messes.
     The Bible clearly tells us that we are to not be afraid of what is to come. By trusting in Jesus and allowing Him to guide us, we can rest fully in the knowledge that He will provide. This is clearly easier said than done.
    Having been homeless, jobless, and penniless at one time, I have seen God do incredible things that only He could do. Has it been easy? Life is never easy, but it is always worth it.
    During the times I have allowed my fears to dictate my actions, I can clearly look back and see how wasted my energies were.
     Wallowing in fear renders us incapable of seeing God’s plan. Fear prevents us from venturing into the unknown and seeing the awesomeness that is God.
     Nothing good comes from fear. Only a personal relationship with Christ can give the peace and calmness we so desire in life.
    Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
    Clearly this verse shows that we walk THROUGH the valley. Jesus does not just drop us off in the valley and forget us. He promises to see us through it.
    While your lifeboat may be rocky and filling with water, and perhaps, you are fearful you will surely drown, keep in my mind that Jesus provides calm waters. He is never asleep! Just keep paddling and praying.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Bowl of Tears and A Heap of Mercy

      In the 5th grade, I made a really bad grade on a test that I had not studied for. I had to take it home to have my father sign it. Being afraid of the consequences I would have to suffer from not doing well on the test, I forged my dad’s signature.
     The next day, my teacher having recognized what was clearly a forgery, sent me to the principle’s office. I had to call my father and tell him what I had done. I knew I was in big trouble!
     Later that afternoon, after spending the remainder of the day worrying about my impending punishment, my father picked me up from school and took me to an ice cream shop for a treat.
     Now, on any other day, this would have been quite fun. However, knowing what I had done and how disappointed my dad was in me, I could not enjoy this outing. 
     While tears rolled down my cheeks and splashed into my bowl of pistachio ice cream, I sat at the table in the small shop and waited for what was sure to be some type of horrific punishment.
     I certainly deserved a spanking or perhaps being grounded from television, but I did not receive either of those that day. Instead, I received a few treasured moments about how God’s mercy is great enough to forgive us even when we are least deserving of it.
     My father taught me far more that day than just lessons on honesty. He taught me about mercy.
     One of my favorite examples of Christ’s mercy is told in Luke 7:36-50. A woman, whose name is never told, came to see Jesus at the home of Simon, where Jesus had been invited to dinner.
      She was a sinner woman perceived by Simon as not worthy of Jesus’ forgiveness or even worthy enough to be in His presence.
      I can imagine Simon’s critical thinking, as I have often been quick to judge others at times.
     Upon arriving at Simon’s home, the sinful woman kneeled at Jesus’ feet, washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Lastly, she poured expensive perfume on them.
     All of the actions made by this sinful woman were custom in that day. However, because Simon perceived her sins to be so bad, he was appalled that Jesus would allow this trashy woman to behave in this way and even said so to Jesus.
     Jesus was quick to correct Simon in his thinking. Jesus was also quick to forgive this sinful woman by showing her great mercy inspite of her sins. The sinful woman was so broken from her wicked life that all she could do was weep. Can you imagine her joy after Jesus had shown her such compassion and love?
     I am like that sinful woman. We are all like her. We are sinners. We are broken. We are in need of Jesus’ mercy. While my sins may be different from yours, we are still just sinners. I can do nothing to earn forgiveness.
     Christ’s mercy cannot be bought or earned. It was paid for when He died on the cross. All we have to do is ask for it.
     My earthly father was not hesitant in showing me mercy on that day of 5th grade, when I so did not deserve it. My Heavenly Father is never hesitant in showing me mercy by forgiving me of my sins. 
      Just like Christ is quick to forgive each of us, we can show that same mercy to others by being a vessel of forgiveness.
      May you know the peace that comes from His mercy this week and be steadfast in showing it to others.