I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14, ESV)
As we climb out of the valley of a health crisis, the Psalmist’s declaration is a good starting point for reflection. Our individuality and uniqueness unfold from two directions. They seem to be polar opposites, but in God’s hands they are majestically complementary. He is the ultimate artisan.
We feel the dark side first. Mortality and the apparent randomness built into our temporal existence disfigure us in individuated fashion. We are shaped by pre-sets we had no hand in choosing — place of birth, language, color of skin, physical maladies, cultural idiosyncrasies… the list is long. And while we live, we remain exposed to pain and loss… disease, natural disasters, politicians, borders, war, famine, victimization, genocide… so many things beyond our control.
We are each a distinct composite of how life happened to us… and, how we chose to deal with it. We have been broken and warped beyond our comprehension.
But that’s not the whole story.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Incomprehensible as it seems, our fragility and brokenness are part of God’s story. It’s a story about redemption. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. The personal disaster of us, interwoven with the restorative purposes of the Spirit, fashion a nuanced tapestry of life, love and grace… the likes of which no man-made religion can replicate.
The Master Artisan is the ultimate perfectionist. If he were human, we might wonder if he weren’t a little OCD. He never stops tweaking. Since he is the God of the dead as well as of the living, we should relax. He is a better long range planner than we are. His designs will work better than ours… and we will be amazed by the results.
Our tapestry’s look is fluid. With the passage of time, brightly colored patterns are supplanted by pastels… distinct lines blanch to blended subtleties. God values us in our old age as much as he always has… even as he orchestrates our physical decline.
At any given point on our continuum, we can be grateful for what the Artisan has done so far. Greg and Carol are who we are because of who we were. And paradoxically, we look back 30-40 years and realize how unfinished our tapestries were. Knowing he’s not finished yet keeps our hope burning bright.
If I’m God’s unfinished tapestry with only the slightest clue about how the completed masterpiece will look, then so are the people at table with me. He’s doing a unique work in each of us… a tapestry of love unfolding in ways we scarcely understand.
Quality sobremesa times remind me: the best thing I can do is get out of the way. I have come to fear the brutishness of thinking I have a handle on what people need to hear from me. No pretention is needed… no personal agenda to impose… no conditions attached to my love for the rest at the table.
Let’s just eat together! Good food provides the setting... it predisposes the heart.
He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17, ESV)
Let’s ooh and aah a lot at the tapestries of each other’s lives. Let’s infuse each other with hope as we cede control of our lives to God today… and again tomorrow.
Who knows where it might lead…