Thursday, September 6, 2012

A sky, a stitch, and a wrestling match

        My Texas friends always tell me how much they miss the sky when they move east.  "There’s not a lot of sky here," a good friend commented upon moving to upstate SC. The statement didn't make much sense, until I spent last week driving through East Texas, through little towns like Tyler, Brownsboro, and Hubbard to Bartlett, TX and I realized they were right.  There's a lot more sky in Texas. It's wide, wide open land with short shrubby trees and a lot of fenced in dust.  As another friend said,  “In Texas, we like to fence in our nothing.”  
        As much as I love my home on the coast and my hometown in the mountains, I did love looking at that Texas sky. My eyes continued to be drawn upward.  The limitless blue made the horizon stretch just a bit wider, opening up a bit more room to think, more room to be.  You could straighten your shoulders, stretch your arms for miles and never touch a thing.  It was infinite space that made me realize how limited my view had become.  That immeasurable holy sky drove home the true smallness of all my little worries and frets. 
        A limitless sky is good for the soul.  It's time to stretch.


      God and I continued our conversation as we sat crocheting. (Click here for beginning of conversation in November 8, 2011 blog post)  I sighed loudly, dropping the
written pattern and ripping out another row of my work. “Ugh, this
pattern sucks!”
        “So why keep following it?” God asked.
        “Because . . . it’s a pattern,” I stammered. “How would I know what
to do without it?!”
        God smiled. “You have what you need, Beloved. I’ve made sure of that.”
        I sighed again. “Meaning what, exactly?” It’s hard to get a straight
answer out of God during these chats.
        “You know how to crochet. You do a stitch. Then you decide what you
want the next stitch to be and do that one. And when you think it’s
time to start a new row, you finish off and turn.”
        “But what if it takes me fifty rows to realize I’ve made a mistake?” I asked.
        “Then you rip out forty-nine and do it differently.”
        “And lose everything?!” There was panic in the shrill crescendo of my question.
        Calmly, God replied, “Not everything. You learn from your mistakes
and build on your successes. I made you good at that.”
        “Thanks,” I smirked. “Why couldn’t you have just made me so I do
things right the first time?” By now I have learned not to expect
answers to such questions. God began a new row, and I stared with envy
at the perfect stitches.
        “Perfection isn’t the point, Beloved.” I jumped, caught off guard by
God’s spoken response to my silent thoughts. God laughed, then handed
me the yarn and hook. “Here, you finish it.” With trembling hands, I
looped the yarn over the hook and began to put it through the next
        “But what is it?” I asked. God said nothing. I finished a single
crochet and paused.
        “Good,” God nodded.  “Now, what do you want the next stitch to be?” I
sat staring at the yarn in my hands, terrified of ruining the
beautiful work God had begun. I couldn’t even tell what I was supposed
to make of it. A blanket? A scarf? A sweater? A doll? Maybe it was
something that hadn’t even occurred to me yet. Helplessly, I looked
up, and God winked. “Just the next stitch.”
        “And then?”
        God reached over and squeezed my hand. “Then one more.” I took a deep
breath, and looped the yarn over the hook.


Wrestling Match
     At a recent Beth Moore event at the North Charleston Coliseum, I was pleased to see that 9,000 people attended from 25 different states. As we all raised our voices in a chorus of “How Great is thy Faithfulness,” I let the blessings of the song, of all the different voices of faith, roll around me.
     I’ve never done a Moore event or Bible study when I haven’t been richly blessed. Early on Moore asked, “How many times are we striving for something that God has already given us?” We studied the story of Jacob and Esau’s reunion, including how Jacob wrestled with the angel. The angel could have ended the fight at any time, as he did in the end by touching Jacob’s hip socket, but instead they wrestled. Her point:  Have you let go too soon?
     She talked about those among us who have had a season of our life that seemed to go on too long with no blessing. Her suggestion: Hold on for the blessing with the passion of Jacob. Turn back around and say, ‘Lord, I will not let go until the blessing comes.’       Sometimes you’re never closer to Jesus than when you’re wrestling it out.
      I’m not sure why so many of us have seasons that seem too long, but I think she’s right. We have to want the blessing, the good work that God promises he's doing in us, enough to wrestle it out.


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