It was embarrassing. To me, anyway.
I don’t suppose anyone else noticed it. Even if they had, they wouldn’t have mentioned it.
The pastor was talking. Something about things the disciples misunderstood about Jesus.
I think that’s what it was. I was paying attention. I was.
But, looking down as he spoke, I noticed them. The threads. The ones hanging from the hem on the right sleeve of my shirt. It wasn’t just one or two, either.
The whole edge of the sleeve was frayed, with white strings dangling like the fringe around the shade of grandma’s old table lamp.
I don’t remember what the pastor said now. I do remember looking quickly from my right arm to the left, only to find more frayed edges.
It is one of my favorite short-sleeved shirts, but I will never be seen in it again. Years of wear, of putting on and taking off, of raising my hands in joyful triumph and of shaking my fists in angry frustration, have taken their toll on the woven cloth and left it weak and fragile.
It has lost its integrity.
No longer do the crisscrossed threads, woven over and under, keep their place. No longer is there a sharp crease at the edge of the sleeve, a clear boundary between fabric and skin.
It has lost its integrity.
I stealthily ran my finger around the circumference of each sleeve, to try and hide the errant threads. Pulling the sleeves tight against my biceps, I hoped no one would notice.
They may have. Or not. It doesn’t matter.
The Lovely Lady will remove the buttons, tossing them into a jar—why, I’m not sure— and the once-favored garment will find itself in the trash bin, come trash pickup day.
Well? I can’t very well go around in a shirt with no integrity, now can I?
When last I wrote, it was scars. Today, a lack of integrity. Both hidden. Both needing to be exposed to the light of day.
They are not the same—scars and lost integrity. Somehow though, we punish folks for both, blaming the injured as much as we do the dishonest.
But, I want to make this clear—crystal clear: Grace suffices for both.
Grace heals our scars, restoring our damaged spirits and renewing our joy.
Grace makes new the fabric of our broken lives, restoring integrity and revitalizing our resolve.
His offer is for a garment with integrity and without stain. Ours—the price paid completely by our Redeemer. (Revelation 3:18)
No more embarrassment.
No more being tossed aside.
He doesn’t cut off the buttons and throw away the worn out fabric.
Grace makes new.
In great matters, men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.
(Gamaliel Bradford ~ American biographer ~ 1863-1932)
May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in you.
(Psalm 25:21 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.