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I know that God says He knits our bodies together, and there is that campy Jesus-Movement song that talks about “weaving us together”. But I’ve always felt that the metaphor for what God does with our messy lives is much more akin to quilting.

The way He lifts all these meaningless pieces from the scrap basket and gives them purpose. The way He fits them together, trims their edges so that they fit just so. The way all this ugliness, all these random pieces, are unified into something beautiful and cohesive. Friends, I know of no greater picture of redemption.

Six weeks ago a dear friend’s teenage son found out he has cancer. News this heavy seems to be only worthy of the scrap basket. As the weeks pass, the losses mount, and with each loss another scrap is cast into the basket. Until that beautiful fabric that used to be “life” is reduced to this basket of cut up scraps. “Worthless,” the Enemy whispers. “Pointless. Useless and meaningless are these scraps that were your life.” And the darkness begins to press in. And we pray. And we cling to hope.

I begin to create in my mind a covering, a protection for this boy, this family. I request fabric from friends and family, and they oblige. Fabric scraps arrive from far and wide, with pictures, with prayers, with scriptures. And when my friend and I sit down to bring all these scraps together, we look at them in despair. So many shapes, so many sizes, such different fabrics, how in the world are we going to bring anything beautiful out of this?

We try this and that, and as we move pieces around they begin to take on the shape of a cross. Yes, this feels right. All these pieces and prayers coming together into the image of our ultimate redemption.

And we bring in other scraps from my own basket, to complete the picture, and all this meaninglessness begins to transform. It becomes cohesive, it has purpose.

Then, my talented friend, she takes this metaphor even further. She picks up all these scraps that we’ve trimmed, this pile of uselessness, she holds them gently and she sees something beautiful. And her hands create this:

We present these gifts to our friends, reminders of how God redeems those scraps in our lives. He wastes nothing. Nothing. Everything, in God’s hands, has purpose and beauty. And He redeems the ugliness and the pain, gives us crowns of beauty for ashes.

…and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

Isaiah 61:3

And so the scrap basket of life, this place of sorrow and pain and sadness, this place where we think we go to mourn and to die, becomes our opportunity to show God’s handiwork and redemption. It becomes our refinement and His glory. He is faithful, my friends. He is faithful to lift us from that darkness and place us into His glorious design.