With our kids away this weekend Dan and I were blessed with a rare treat to spend 24 hours alone together. From start to finish, I should have crafted a comfy blanket of love and stayed bundled inside.
At least the weekend started that way.
On Saturday night we enjoyed a long overdue date and saw the movie, Fireproof. (Side note: This is a must-see movie for anyone who’s married or thinking of getting married. It’s honest, raw, wrenching and beautiful. Rarely have I seen a film delve so deeply and truthfully into the one relationship that’s the greatest gift from God yet receives the greatest heat in our lives—our marriages. Fireproof presents the gospel message in a moving and incredibly relevant way. Since the divorce rate among Christians and non-Christians is virtually the same, Fireproof’s message is universally necessary.)
After the movie we caught a late dinner, but because of the distractions from the Penn State game on the TV and a waiter who wanted to rush us out so he could go home, Dan and I didn’t reconnect as I’d hoped.
I wove in a few strands of regret.
On Sunday morning we attended a Mission Sunday service at a nearby church. They’d invited members of our church’s Dominican Republic missionary team, including my hubby, to participate in the service. Maybe it was worshipping in a new church. Maybe it the familiar hymns of my youth. Maybe it was listening to Dan and our good friend share their moving testimonies. Maybe it was the young people who spoke of a new life in Jesus because of a mission trip they attended this summer. But God moved in that place among those people—and among me. I sensed His presence in a way I’d been craving for some time.
A shawl of godliness cloaked my shoulders.
I was lost in my own thoughts, relishing the God moment, as Dan and I drove to his sister’s house to pick up our son. Part way into the hour-long drive my husband realized we’d forgotten to bring our nephew’s birthday present. The same one he’d forgotten to take with him the day before.
I calmly replied, “No, it should be in here. You put it in the car earlier.” (I’d seen him take the present into the garage to put into the car.)
“Oh, I thought it was trash, so I threw it away," he responded.
Trash? A gift bag with a card and tissue paper and a present inside is trash?
In the blink of an eye, anger shredded the godliness that enveloped me. How could he be so careless? And this wasn’t the first time something like this happened. I’m ashamed of the angry words that came from my mouth.
I simmered for the most of the ride, eventually and reluctantly accepting the olive branch my husband offered. Inside I wondered: how had I gone from marveling at God in one moment to freaking out at my husband the next? I felt like a big fat Christian hypocrite and a horrible example.
Threads of guilt intertwined with the anger.
After a brief chat with my SIL and BIL, we gathered our son and headed home. We weren’t 10 minutes into the trip on the rural winding roads before we saw cars stopped ahead. An accident had just occurred. It was bad. Bumpers, tires, metal and glass littered the asphalt. A mangled car jutted into our lane. Others rested at odd angles. But what caught my eye most of all was a body lying completely motionless on the grass—a few feet from my side of the car. We didn’t know if the man was alive or dead. A visibly upset woman was with him and told us an ambulance was on the way. My husband got out to see if he could help. I stayed in the car with our upset son and prayed.
The police and EMTs arrived moments later so we cleared the way and let them do their jobs. On the ride home Dan told me the man was alive, barely, and another person was trapped in the car.
Swatches of sadness covered us.
When we somberly arrived to pick up our daughter from her youth group retreat, I hoped to weave some strands of joy into my increasingly tattered tapestry. Instead we were greeted by a sullen teenager whose sum total of describing the weekend was, “It was fine.” The evening went downhill from there.
By the time bedtime arrived I was ready to hit the restart button. This was supposed to be such a great weekend. I surveyed the frayed edges and torn garments strewn about and wondered what happened.
I thought of the apostle Paul, “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”(Romans 7:19-20, NLT) It’s such a conundrum. Despite our best intentions, the power of sin is so great.
Life had happened and I'd focused on feelings not faith. But feelings lie, they’re fickle, they rely on our external circumstances and they put ME at the center of it all. So humbly I gathered my homemade rags and brought them to the only One who could salvage the mess.
Forgive me Jesus for once again choosing my wardrobe over yours.
Like Paul said, we want to do right but we don’t. And the enemy is ever-present offering supplies and ideas for the handiwork of our own making.
But God loves us so much he sent Jesus, the master Tailor, to provide better garments. Righteous ones. Yes it takes time. And yes we make mistakes along the way. But when we humbly offer it all He takes our worthless, fraying remnants and crafts them into a quilt of glory. And grace.
And He stitches it all together with one crimson thread.
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” ~Isaiah 61:10