I can still remember how pathetic my little valentine looked. Freddie, who sat next to me in the third grade, had created a masterpiece but my heart-shaped valentine was lopsided and I had pressed on the red crayon so hard that the color looked like scales on the valentine. I would like to say that I got better at crafts, but that has never been one of the abilities I have acquired.
A few years ago my sister decided that she could teach me to quilt. After all, women came from near and far to learn quilting techniques from her. “It’s really simple,” she told me as she handed me a Ziploc bag with material and step-by-step instructions on how to piece one quilt block.
Three years later I finished the quilt block and proudly presented it for her inspection. “You made beautiful, little stitches,” she said. “But, Mart! It’s a star pattern. Look! The points are supposed to spin in one direction. You’ve turned some the other way.” She shook her head in disbelief that I could mess up one quilt block when her instructions had been detailed and specific. She was kind, though, and said, “Well, I guess you made a Jacob’s Ladder design.”
I know that she thought her teaching was in vain and that I didn’t learn a thing, but she taught me a life lesson. She said, “When you cut quilt squares, always use a template.” She explained that if you cut squares and then use the squares that you cut as patterns your pieces will gradually become lopsided and unevenly shaped. “Always go back to the template,” she had emphasized. “The template never changes but the pieces of cloth will vary due to the texture or weight of the cloth, or being cut on the bias.”
As God has shaped my life, I’ve often struggled with keeping my eyes on the never-changing template of Christ and the Word of God. It seems so much easier to pattern my life after people I admire or with whom I associate. Those around me, though, have been shaped by weighty burdens and biases that affect their shape. Paul said it is unwise to use each other as a standard of measure (II Cor.10:12). As time and events cut through the fabric of my days I must constantly look to God’s template for my life-shape rather than to my friends, culture, or even my church.
Martha Hawn VanCise ©2013 www.signpostsonhightrails.com