Just last week, my mom and I ordered our Christmas tree. It's arriving today!
We used to have a lovely artificial tree from my childhood; however, my family and I lost our home and possessions to hidden water damage and toxic mold in 1998. Virtually everything (including the tree) was lost in that catastrophe. Since that time, we've struggled with losses of all shapes and sizes. It's not been an easy road to rebuild a life, to rebuild a home, to rebuild traditions, and most importantly to rebuild our damaged health, especially in the midst of subsequent trials and challenges.
The past several years, we've celebrated Christmas without a tree. I thought that this year we could use a new one to lift our spirits and to try to have some "normal" moments in the midst of abnormal circumstances.
In the process of ordering the new tree, I realized that we did not have an angel to go on top! One of my favorite memories from childhood was placing our little crocheted angel on top of our beautifully decorated tree to finish the job. It was the official start to Christmas.
Since I enjoy crocheting, I looked for a pattern I could use to make a special tree-topper. I found a picture of the perfect little angel on a website and purchased the pattern. The pattern was 8 pages long and the most complicated crochet project I'd ever attempted.
I started out one stitch at a time, and by last night, I had begun the intricate design on the skirt. Row after row of spacing and stitching revealed a lovely lace, but when I examined the picture of the finished product, it didn't look the same to me. A sinking feeling crept into my stomach. I started to doubt the pattern, thinking there must be some mistake. I checked and rechecked the rows, but the design still did not seem to match up to what I thought it should look like. I even considered making a modification myself or ripping out the hours of work I'd already done.
Finally, I had to make a decision to trust the pattern and just keep going. It was blind trust. I couldn't see how these rows would all come together to create my ideal angel. I ran the risk of losing more time and effort if I had to rip it out later. I simply had to decide that since the pattern-maker had seen this work from beginning to end, it must be the right path to follow.
A few rows later, it became clear. I saw the pattern forming right before my eyes!
Suddenly, the spiritual parallel hit me. The Bible is the pattern that God wrote for life. If I follow it line by line, book by book, my life will be woven into the best possible design. However, in the midst of following it, things can look confusing, even like there's been some big mistake. Sometimes I might think, "Lord, this doesn't look right. This doesn't look like the kind of life you promised!"
Taking it upon myself to deviate from the pattern of God's word will cause a lot of problems. Trying to correct God's pattern to fit society's ideals, my desires, and to please other people is the biggest mistake I can make. Compromising biblical truth will never give me God's best.
Trust comes when I make the choice to continue in faith step-by-step, stitch-by-stitch, according to God's pattern. Only then will the fabric of my life form and develop in a way pleasing to him. His instructions may sound wrong, or even impossible to follow. Do good to my enemies? Overcome evil with good? Deny myself? Take up my cross? Lay down my life? It's counter-intuitive to follow some of Christ's commands. But when I have faith to rely on The Pattern-Maker who has already seen my life from beginning to end, I don't have to worry. Each Biblical choice built on the next will create the final product I desire - a life that glorifies God.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.