Fourteen years ago, I visited one of my best friends for a week and decided that I wanted to learn how to make a quilt. My friend helped me cut out squares of fabric and lay out the quilt that I intended to make for my then four year old daughter. I arrived home from that vacation eager to begin. For the next four years, I painstakingly hand sewed every square, every row until all of the pieces were sewn together. Then I made a butterfly template and hand quilted most of the quilt. My labor of love was nearly complete by my daughter’s 8th birthday, so even though it was not completely finished, I gave it to my girl who was (thankfully!) delighted.
I had every intention of finishing that quilt, but soon after Lindsay’s 8th birthday, we began planning for a move to a new state and a new church. The quilt was forgotten. For years. At the back of my mind, I kept thinking about the fact that I needed to finish that quilt. Meanwhile, my eight year old was growing up and the pretty pink princess quilt was becoming less and less of a delight. All of those years and all of that work felt meaningless.
But then God surprised me in the best possible way! He chose to give me another daughter, a gift that I had not anticipated. I didn’t immediately remember the quilt that was now stashed in a closet somewhere. I enjoyed the baby stage and the toddler years, but when my baby girl turned four, I remembered the old, nearly finished quilt. I knew I needed to finish it, but maturity had taught me that I should ask for help. I had learned that while I was satisfied with my work, I did not actually love sewing. I knew that a finished quilt would be better than trying to learn how to finish a project that was no longer a priority for me. And so, I asked my brilliant quilting friend to finish it for me. What had been unfinished for six years was completed in a week!
I was reminded of this story yesterday when my now eight year old baby girl came downstairs with the quilt wrapped around her. She sleeps with it every night and the flaws in my handiwork are evident as some of the thread holding the squares together has unravelled. But she loves her quilt and there is great joy for me in knowing that my work is meaningful.
I didn’t know when I started working on that quilt fourteen years ago that it would be used by Ainsley and not Lindsay. It’s a reminder to me to keep being faithful with what the Lord lays before me each day. I won’t always know how He intends to use my faithfulness, but that’s the beauty of trusting in God. I know that He WILL use it. Sometime. In some way. In HIS way!
His plans for me are always good. I know this because I can look back over the course of my life and see his faithfulness and his steadfast love woven through every part of my life. In the way I was born despite the doctors encouraging my parents to abort me due to possible complications. The way He drew my heart to Him at the young age of four or five when I knelt by my parent’s bed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. In my parent’s willingness to make sacrifices that would allow me to go to a Christian school for two years, a time that would solidify my love for Jesus. In moving our family to a small country town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania where I would sink down roots and be encouraged to fly. Through my youth group and camp and a missions trip that would give me a foundation for desiring to serve the Lord with my life. In leading me to Moody Bible Institute where I would meet the love of my life. In allowing me to be a pastor’s wife even though I thought I would NEVER be one. In the precious gifts of my four children who give me the greatest delight (and have taught me more about my need for Jesus than I could have ever imagined!). In the way He continues to pursue my heart, giving me a greater desire to know Him more and more.
Jeremiah 29:11 seems to be a “life verse” for many people and I understand this. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s a great verse, a beautiful promise. What is not talked about as often is the context of this declaration. The exiles who heard these words would not see this promise fulfilled for 70 years! This means that there were some who heard the message who never actually saw it fulfilled.
I intended to make the quilt for my oldest daughter, but instead it is used by my youngest. It is good for me to remember that God is the Author of my story. He knows all of the chapters and He knows how it’s going to end. While most of my story has been incredibly amazing, there are some chapters that have been deeply painful. Would I change those parts of my story? No. As hard as they have been, miscarriage, difficulties in ministry, losing my Dad and my Mom, I can honestly say that all of these things have drawn me closer to Christ. My love for Him has grown deeper through the difficulties and I would not change that for anything.
God has a plan for my life and it is good. I won’t always know what it might be, but I do know that I want to keep being faithful today, because the opportunity to look back and see how His plans for me have been woven together is worth it! Thankfully, His Handiwork is perfect. It will not unravel! He is a trustworthy God.