A New Lesson from an Old Towel

When I picked up an old towel this morning to polish a silver pendant, I stopped and stared. I bought those green jacquard towels in 1969, when I left to go to college. We will be selling our jewelry tomorrow at a fine craft show and I was finishing a new pendant style of sterling silver using our handmade glass beads. If anyone had predicted my 2006 life from my 1969 life, I would have cynically laughed it off. In 1969, at 17, I couldn’t imagine a life past 25. If I’d thought about it seriously, I would have said I expected to be dead by then.

And yet, I am, quite gloriously alive, 37 years later. Designing jewelry. Writing. And enjoying a sweet marriage.

We often imagine future scenarios, but we don’t usually assume the best, even as Christians. We know we’re supposed to trust God, but sometimes, he’s just so abstract. We fear the worst–our children will marry badly, our cancer will be terminal, we’ll get Alzheimer’s.  But, since we cannot know the future, why not assume the best?

The towel this morning reminded me:  I have no clue of what good plans God has. Drying my hair with that towel in 1969, I would never have predicted polishing my pendant with it in 2006! Nor do we know the good plans he has for us in the next years.

Father, you say, in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope." (Net)

May we trust your good plans for us.

A Wrong Answer

When Jesus came upon the man lying beside the pool at Bethesda, he asked him, "Do you want to become well?" That’s a question that calls for a "yes" or "no" answer, but the man said to Jesus, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get into the water, someone else goes down there before me." John 5:6,7 Even though the paralytic justified his position rather than answer Jesus’ question, Jesus invited him to stand up, take up his mat and walk!

Jesus’ mercy here touches me. He didn’t repeat the question so the suffering man could give the "right" answer. He gave him what he needed. He gave the man the power to respond to his command: "Stand up." And then he gave him a task: "Pick up your mat."

Jesus, thank you for the power to respond to your commands and to do your tasks. Help us want to be well.

Patient in the Process

But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 PET 3:8

A friend was in the midst of a years-long recovery from childhood abuse, which had left much distrust and fear in its wake. Eating calmed her fears, but it had gotten out of control. She was pursuing healing with a Christian therapist, but progress was slow and painful. Her weight was a constant burden to her.

Impatient with the pace of her progress, she accused God, “You seem to think you have all the time in the world!”

“I do,” he replied.

“Oh, yes, I guess you do,” she said, with a sigh of relief.

Even though the process remained difficult, knowing God was patient with her allowed her to relax in the necessary steps of recovery. God is so much more patient than we are. He is more patient with us than we are with ourselves. He is patient in our progress towards holiness. He is patient as we work through forgiving those who hurt us in our childhoods. He is patient as we learn to love.

He knows, far better than we do, how long it takes to learn to trust him when our parents have been untrustworthy. If we are working towards that goal, he is pleased with us.

Lord, we want relax in this growth process. Please show us your patience with us.