Steady in the Storm, Chapter Sixteen: Redemption is Hard
“Jesus is so kind and gentle, not expecting us to be hanged overnight, but rather works on us slowly – one area at a time, preventing us from being overwhelmed by our won brokenness and thus giving up.”
I love a good project, but what I love more than a good project is finishing a project. I decided my winter project this year is going to be sewing a quilt. I’ve never sewn a quit before, but it’s been a project I’ve admired from afar for a very long time. I like the idea of sewing a quilt, I like the end result of having a blanket, and I like the timeless tradition of quilt making, dating back endless generations. The only reason I have not yet sewn a quit is because sewing often frustrates me and causes me to swear like a sailor.
I found a pattern, acquired the fabrics and then spent the next number of weeks just looking at the fabrics afraid to cut them into the required pieces. Cutting the fabrics felt like a no-turning-back job that I didn’t want to mess up. If you make a mistake in that initial cut, the rest of the quilt is ruined. In classic sewing-Shonah fashion, I literally made a giant mistake in cutting the first round of fabric and I swore. Thankfully, I was able to salvage the mis-cut pieces for other cuts and made it all work.
Now that the physical sewing of the quilt is underway, I’m hooked. Like totally hooked. I’m delightfully surprised every time the pre-cut piece magically fits up against it’s mate. I’m filled with child-like satisfaction as I see the images taking shape and the quilt beginning to form. This project is not going to last all winter as previously hoped. This will be an October project. I’m simply too excited to drag it out the length of the season.
My eagerness to finish projects and receive the satisfaction of a job well done also applies when looking at my self-improvement and life achievements. I want it done now. I want the end goal now. I’m the type of person to pull an all nighter just to finish a quilt. I’m also the type of person to take on two and three jobs at a time to meet my financial goals. So nothing frustrates me more than the slow and painful progress of God’s redemption.
I have a trust problem. I have a hard time believing people will actually do what they say they will do. My relationship with God is not exempt to this trust issue, in fact, I would say God get’s the brunt of my trust issues. I don’t always believe he will do what he says. I don’t always like the way he does it. I don’t always like the way his way looks. I have said lately to a few people, I trust God, but I don’t like how it looks and then I revoke my trust in God, telling him he’s not actually doing anything to progress the situation. But progress is so small and it has to be small, otherwise we might get overwhelmed and quit.
The quilt I am making is made up of pieces as small as one square inch. When done, the quilt will be six feet by six feet. I was told by a counsellor once to look for the 2%, because personal, relational, and spiritual progress will happen at a rate of 2-5%. Looking for those small areas of improvement were meant to be the motivation to keep going. When I look back over the past year I can find areas of improvement around 20-50%! But I have a chronic problem of only seeing what is not getting done, or getting frustrated by the tiny percentages, which is why I will pull the all nighter to finish my quilt, because I want the undone finished. Unfortunately, you can’t stay up all night, sewing together all the broken pieces of your life, having a perfect and finished life by the time the sun rises.
God’s timing is not our timing. I hate that. I hate that I just wrote that, but it’s truth and you can’t deny truth. God IS working on me, he IS working on my life, he IS seeing the improvement, admiring how the pieces are perfectly fitting their mates as he works along. He knows he is crafting something bigger than one square inch pieces, he knows where he is headed and he trusts the end result. My faith is getting really challenged lately, because I have to look at all the undone pieces and have faith God is putting them together.
As I talk about in Steady in the Storm, when I look back on who I was ten years ago, there is no way I could be who I am today then. There was just way too much to learn, experience, grow in and be challenged by. I have to trust that the person I will be two, five, ten years from now will be a much better version of the person I am today; the progress just seems to happen one square inch at a time.