Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Ripping Out Stiches

The cold continues--and evenings have been spent working on the latest crochet project. Until. Until I stopped to check my progress and realized it's more and more lopsided. One side is shorter while the other stays the same. And I didn't notice until I was 8 rows in. 8 rows of twin-sized afghan! It didn't happen all at once. It happened row by row. So what to do? Rip, rip, rip. All those stitches, all that time, gone.

The same thing happens in our spiritual lives. We live, strive, work, and push forward. But when we fail to stop and evaluate, or even consider, where we've been, we risk getting off track--and staying off track. The longer we wait to look back and look up, the farther we travel, unaware we've wandered.

That is the power of proper comparison. Not comparing ourselves with others or our finite expectations, but comparing ourselves with the template of the Word of God. Am I on course? How has God been using circumstances to reveal His character and Word? What has He been teaching me? If I don't know--or if there's no real answer--it's time to stop, take a backward glance, and, perhaps, rip out a few stitches of incorrect thinking, motives, plans, hopes, even dreams.

The difficulties of life are intended to reveal our hearts. What do I really want? What was I hoping for? What means the most to me?

And when those tainted, brief, lesser things are burned away--when God says "No"--I am left with the truth: Jesus must be all the world to me. In my heart, there are many times that He's not. I struggle to keep Him there. I know He should be. And as I rip stitches, as I grieve lost time and opportunities, God reminds me of His faithfulness. When I am faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself,  Christ in me, the hope of glory. So I press on. I start again, checking the pattern more closely; following the directions more carefully; taking heed to myself and my choices. And trusting God to bring the increase.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)