When the picture isn’t complete (and that’s okay)

I started cross-stitching again. It’s this hobby I sort of start and stop and then start again. This time, it was part of my plan to enjoy life more. Because January brought with it the return of two of our favorite TV shows–Downton Abbey and Sherlock–in addition to all the Doctor Who we’ve been watching on Netflix. So, cross-stitching is my justification for spending hours watching TV at the end of a day. At least I’ll have something to show for it, besides having enjoyed a good visual story. I picked up this pattern I’d started years ago because I like to finish what I start, and it’s big enough that it will occupy me for months, probably, and I’ll be saved from having to make a decision about what to stitch  next.

cross stitch finished picThat’s what it will look like finished, Lord willing, someday.

In the meantime, this is where I’m at.

cross stitch frontI can catch glimpses of the final picture, but for the most part, I’m stitching green, green and more green. I finally switched to brown because I needed some variety.

Such is life.

Maybe you’ve been there. Everything feels the same, looks the same and you wonder if you’re getting anywhere with anything. Will your life ever look like you’ve envisioned?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But I believe all those green threads and brown ones, the drab and colorful, will all come together to make something beautiful.

It might just take time.

I’m not particularly good at cross-stitch. Inevitably I end up counting wrong and have to tear out some threads and start again or improvise so it still looks somewhat the same as the pattern.

cross stitch back knots

More often, I find myself in knots. A long thread will wrap around itself in the back and suddenly I’m unable to pull it through and continue.

The back of my cross-stitch creations are full of knots.

Such is life.

My past, my present, they’re full of knots too. Times when I’ve been careless or hurried or thoughtless or selfish. Some of the knots I don’t have a reason for. But they all keep me from moving ahead.

Sometimes I try to untangle them to save as much thread as possible. Other times, I have to cut them and start over.

Such is life.

But in the end, it’s not the knots and the stray threads and the mess-ups that matter.

It’s where I’m headed.

cross stitch plan picture

And how I’m getting there.

I can see how this cross-stitch picture will end. But I have a lot of work to do to get there. And it won’t finish itself.

In a way, such is life.

I believe God is making all things new. That the Creator, who created, has not finished creating, restoring and renewing. He hasn’t given up on this world or His people.

I can’t see what it will look, but I catch glimpses every now and then.

I see enough to believe that we–earth, humanity– are headed somewhere. But we have a lot of work to do. And God could finish it Himself. But what if He asked us to be part of it?

What if we’re creating, restoring, renewing the world in partnership with Him?

What if each of us all has one color of thread and we need to work together to complete the picture?

And what if we tie ourselves in knots trying to get it right?

Will we give up? Or will we untangle the webs, cut the strings and start over when necessary?

Will we keep moving forward until the picture is finished?

I don’t know about you but I’m overwhelmed by long-term projects. I like quick and easy.

But ours is not a quick and easy calling, is it?

What’s more, we might not see the picture completed. At least, not in our days on earth.

I think of the faithful ones listed in Hebrews 11, the heroes whose stories we teach in Sunday School. Yet this is said of them:

All these people were still living by faith when they died.

I said it before: I like to finish what I start. Although my track record with that dwindles daily.

So it’s hard to imagine that anything I’ve started or been a part of in my lifetime might not come to completion or be finished in my lifetime.

Just a chapter later in Hebrews, Jesus is called the “author and finisher” of our faith (King James version).

So, maybe it’s not my job to finish, but just to do my part.

I will finish the cross-stitch picture. I hope to complete my novel this year.

My faith, this journey, may never be finished.

And I think I can be okay with that.


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