One of the things that I love to do in my spare time is Cross Stitch. I don’t do it too often, so when I get the opportunity, I really enjoy it. I brought my project that I recently started to a Pastor and Wives Retreat because I knew I would have some quiet moments to work on it. Little did I know that God would use it to speak to me in a profound way. It’s not too often that I feel like I KNOW that it’s God’s voice I’m hearing, but on this day, there was no question.
I had worked on my Cross Stitch the evening previous and later the next morning, continued where I had left off. I worked on it for about an hour before I realized that something didn’t look right. I checked the instruction graph and I counted and re-counted my stitches. It had me stumped. My stitching was all correct that I had done over the course of the morning. Each one was done perfectly. The colors were right and as I re-counted again, I had the correct number of stitches. Even though the problem was not with my stitches, something wasn’t right. It wasn’t corresponding the way it should when I looked at the instruction graph and the picture of what the finished product should look like. Where had I messed up? I was so careful to do each stitch just right. It was all so neat and perfect looking in one way, but when I looked at the big picture, something was obviously wrong. Count again. Double-check. I was becoming frustrated, because by this point, I had put a fair bit of time and effort into this and I knew something was wrong, despite my best efforts.
It was then that God taught me a lesson, that I hope I will never forget. In fact, it’s because of that lesson, that I feel so compelled to write this out on paper. ALL OF A SUDDEN, I REALIZED THAT MY FABRIC WAS UPSIDE DOWN! Almost immediately, God spoke to my heart in a very real way. For a change, I was quiet enough and still enough to hear His gently voice.
Just like the individual stitches in my project, that were so carefully crafted, I often work hard at doing things well in my life. God’s point to me was this … I can be a good mother to my children. I can be a faithful wife. I can be a worker in the church and a faithful steward of God’s money. I can do a great job at my place of employment. I can please most of the people, most of the time. In fact, I can even pray and read my bible and be a good witness to non-believers. Just like the individual stitches on my fabric, I can do all of these things REALLY well, but, if the fabric of my life is upside down, it’s all in vain. In other words, if the motive for doing all those things is for the wrong reasons, at the end of the day, it really, really doesn’t matter. If I do all that I do, to somehow earn my salvation, or earn my way to heaven, I’ve missed the mark.
My goal in life needs to be, becoming like Jesus. Just as my stitches were upside down on the fabric, so my best efforts at being a Christian, have often been dependent on whether I could do it good enough. I desperately needed to be reminded that the work is already done. There is absolutely nothing that I can do to earn my way. If I do all the right things in life, for all the wrong reasons, what has it gained me in the end? Through his son, God has already done the work, paying the price. Salvation is a free gift, already paid for. The Message Bible puts it this was, in Hebrews 10:12-14. “It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.”
When you make a mistake in Cross Stitch, it’s a painful process to go back and tear out the stitches, especially when the pattern has been going on for a while. In the stillness of the moment, as I tore each stitch out, I prayed that God would help me to do all that I do, for all the right reasons. I have a choice to make. I can continue to labor through life, attempting to earn something that I never will. Or … I can rest in the arms of Christ, knowing that the price has already been paid, the work is done and heaven awaits me. There is nothing I can do to make Christ love me more. There is nothing I can do to earn a gift that has already been freely given. According to statistics, my life is approximately half over. My prayer is that I will start living in a way, for the latter part, with the fabric turned the right way. I want to do God’s will because that’s what will make me more like Jesus.
I have nothing to earn, nothing to prove and no price to pay. May I work at whatever I do with all my heart, not because I have a price to pay, but because Christ has already paid the price for me. I want the fabric of my life in line with each stitch that is sewn into the fabric.
Written by Cindy Gibson
New Hope Methodist, Newmarket