My young friend has seen more of life in his twenty-six years than many of us do in all of our allotted time on this spinning sphere.
I’m confident there is nothing I have to teach him. Empty words are not what he needs today. I don’t intend to offer any.
We talked about the troubles in this world that waylay us on our journey. I had to work hard to avoid the trite words we who follow Christ keep ready to offer for such occasions.
Count it all joy when you encounter trials… (James 1:2)
My grace is sufficient for you… (2 Corinthians 12:9)
In the world you will have tribulations… (John 16:33)
These words—and many more—are perfectly true. Really. They are. But, that doesn’t mean we need to say them every time we speak with folks who are experiencing trouble.
Well-meant words can become explosive devices when dropped from the great height of wisdom into the valley of loss and sadness. Where ointment and salve are needed, we offer astringents and solvents.
As my young friend and I spoke, it seemed to me he still needed soft words that soothed the hurt.
I’m better at cauterizing than soothing.
Today though, I’m feeling the exhaustion that comes from personal loss and sadness myself. A kindred spirit, you might say. I speak briefly of the person I think I would be, if not for the sad times that have driven me to cower under the shadow of His wings.
Arrogant and self-assured, is who I am when my own strength is sufficient to carry me through.
Our loving Father uses those times of loss to draw us closer, but also to shape us into the followers He needs us to be.
The unhappy events that come throughout life are folded in with the joyous ones—eventually. All of them we have lived are a part of who we are—the sadness blending with jubilation—the horror mixing into the delight.
The warp and weft of life.
I heard the phrase the other day, and a picture formed in my mind instantly. The patient weaver stood, row after row of drab colored thread laid out and running straight ahead on the loom. The warp is in front of him already.
Beside him lay spindles of brightly colored thread, along with more of the same drab twisted material. From those spindles, he will choose what goes into the weft, the cross-weave. His choice will make a dramatic difference.
The exact color and pattern of the finished material are up to the weaver. If he picks up the brightly dyed spindle, the material will come alive with a visible change. Although the beauty might be marred by weakened thread, the dye having caused a reaction with the fibers, the resulting cloth will be more pleasing to the eye.
More of the same neutral color will make a utilitarian piece of material, strong and useful. Possibly, even a complementary neutral hue will lend interest, but not detract from the strength.
The choice is the weaver’s.
Side by side—and sometimes cross-ways—the different threads of life change the character of the material. The good lies alongside the bad, the joyous crisscrossing with the sorrowful. As the pattern is revealed, its beauty is also.
The Weaver plans to finish what He started. (Philippians 1:6)
How would He make a garment which was not of good quality? He knows the plan He has for each of us and it will be for our ultimate good. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Even if we don’t like the color He is weaving with right now—even if the fibers are rough and coarse—His strong and able hands assure the beauty and strength of the completed fabric.
I will admit it. The fibers are not to my liking right now.
Today, I’m not even sure I like the pattern I see emerging all that much.
The Weaver isn’t finished yet.
Sometimes, we simply trust and wait.
The warp and weft are still coming together.
The pattern is still emerging from His loom.
For Him, I’ll wait.
Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.
(Fyodor Dostoyevsky ~ Russian novelist ~ 1821-1881)
For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
my salvation through all generations.
(Isaiah 51:8 ~ NIV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.