September 09, 2013

All Things

In 2011 Quiltmaker magazine published Debbie Caffrey's Secret Window mystery quilt. The pattern appeared in three issues, beginning with the fabric requirements and the instructions for the first four blocks. The second issue added pieces to one of the blocks along with two new blocks and the last issue revealed how everything fit together.

My Secret Window quilt
I had never done a mystery quilt before so I decided to try this one. I took that first issue to my local quilt shop and started picking out my fabrics. It took forever! I knew how many fabrics I needed, and how much of each one, but I had no idea which would become a focal point or which two would need a lot of contrast because they would be next to each other. I could guess some things, like that fabric #8 would probably be used for the border because the pattern said a large scale print would work and because I needed more of that fabric than of any other. Knowing very little about the pattern made choosing difficult, but it also made it fun as I looked forward to seeing how the fabrics were used.
My fabric #8 - I was right, it is the border!

I have a friend who has made a couple of quilts and finds she always has trouble choosing her colours, even with the pattern to guide her. She just can't see the big picture, she says. She can't envision how the bolts of fabric will work together after they're cut and pieced.

My quilt-holding, servant hearted Aiden

Not seeing how things will work together can be a problem in our lives as well. We can't see the big picture, how it will all look in the end, so we don't know how God will use the events of our lives. Romans 8:28 is a famous promise, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." It may be tempting to read this and think 'everything will go my way from now on,' but that isn't what the verse says. It doesn't say all things will be good. It says all things will work together to produce some God-designed good. For example, a chronic illness isn't good, but if it forces a woman to rely on God daily for strength, then that close relationship with God is for her good.

Most of the time when people look at this verse they focus on the big things we can't understand, like illness, loss or financial difficulties. We can't see how God will use these things for our good, but this verse promises us that He will. I think, though, that we often overlook the little, everyday frustrations that fall also under the heading of 'all things' He uses for our good.

As any mother can understand, there are plenty of times when I want to enjoy some quiet time, but one of the boys needs help with something or supper needs to be made because little bellies need to eat on time. I confess I sometimes get frustrated and whine, even if it's only in my head. These little moments aren't a major life event, but God can use them for my good, if only I pay attention.

After John and James' mother asked that her sons be granted a place of honour, the other disciples were "indignant with the two brothers." (Matthew 20:24) Jesus corrected them all, saying, "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (vv. 26-28) So, if Jesus didn't expect to be served, but instead came to do the serving, I can be sure my grumbling attitude needs some adjusting. Being mom certainly provides me with lots of opportunities to refine my servant heart!

What about you? What circumstances in your life offer you the chance to better conform yourself to the image of Jesus? It could be something big, like a job search that feels like it's getting nowhere, or it could be something much smaller, like the frequent demands on any parent. What character trait could this circumstance be an opportunity to improve? Identifying the possible positive outcome of our circumstances won't always mean we respond with the right reaction, but it will make us more aware of those negative responses and that's the first step to getting it right next time.

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