Monday, July 17, 2017

The Undoing and the Mending

"A time to tear and a time to sew..." Ecclesiastes 3:7

It had been weeks since I had sat and consumed scripture for the simple joy of consuming it, of enjoying the way it satisfies and fills me up. I had grown busy, weary, distracted. And I was still hurt.

And God was the one who had hurt me, if you asked me. He had led me to a steep cliff and asked me to jump and I had naively agreed. The fall was farther than I had expected, and He had allowed me to feel the helplessness of being out of control, and then the bone rattling thud as I hit the bottom.

Obedience that led to pain.

Speak to me, Lord. I need to hear You. I need to make sense of this.

The word "tear" stood out, begging me to play hide and seek with its meaning. I looked at the original Hebrew, followed the cross reference clues in the margin. "Rend" was the pick of King James, and that could mean to "revile, the cut out."

I flipped to Genesis 37 and was reminded of the horrific scene of Reuben racing back to the empty well where he and his brothers in their haste and hatred had left Joseph. But Joseph was not there...Reuben tore his clothes and wept.

Then Joshua and Caleb begged the Israelites to stop listening to the enemy's voice and succumbing to fear about the Promised Land. It was theirs, but they had to fight for it. Stop being so stupid! They tore their clothes and mourned the sin of their people.

David's heart raced as he listened to the filthy man confirm that Saul and Jonathan are dead, and so he tore his clothes and wept and mourned.

Job received wave after wave of horrific, unthinkable news--his world had been turned upside down and his children were all gone. He tore his clothes and wept and mourned.

I returned to the list of appointed times in Ecclesiastes and suddenly saw the phrase differently. A time to tear and a time to sew. And then the Lord's gentle whisper embraced me and He invited me to flip through the pages of my own cross references...

Remember that time you were making pants for Caleb? How you missed it, you sewed the wrong seams together?

I did. It was frustrating. I had wanted to quit, to throw the whole thing in the trash and be done.

You carefully ripped the seams, gently so you didn't ruin the material. 
Because you knew you would sew again.

I did. My heart began to race at the memory and the warmth of knowing my God was speaking to my heart, that He was sewing even me back together. I needed mending.

The seasons in Ecclesiastes--He was in them all. He made them all so. They were all under His watch, in His timing.

How would you have known how to make the pants for your little boy so well had you not done it wrong and had to retrace your steps, learn it backwards? The next pair of pants were sewn the right way the first time.

It was true. The tearing had made the stitches stronger. And nothing could make me forget how to sew them the right way after that. It was second nature, stitched in my memory forever because I had learned it the harder way.

The mourning makes the next celebration sweeter. And there will be a reason to celebrate again. Crying may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
He makes all things beautiful in their time.
And He ordains each time, each season.
Even the tearing.

The new baby after the one lost is an indescribable joy even the most skilled writer could not adequately capture with mere words.

The unbelievable reuniting of brothers, the first victorious footstep onto the Promised Land, the first seating onto the King's throne, the double blessing of children and possessions...these would have tasted less sweet without the mourning that had come before them.

And God ordained it all, though it hurt and I couldn't see the purpose. My faith will be stronger after feeling let down and betrayed by Him, I have no doubt. Because now I understand just a little more of how He works, and maybe--hopefully--next time I am torn, I will remember how He stitched my faith back together stronger than it was before it was torn. And maybe it'll hurt a little less when the next tearing comes.

Because it will. And my voice quivers slightly as I say that I welcome it so that I will be sewn back together even stronger after that--the undoing and the mending.

Peace of Christ to you,

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