Christmas 2015, as lovely as it’s been, is behind us, and before we know it, this year will be boxed up like last week’s ornaments. It’s hard to believe but in the space of 3 days, two parties, and 600 or so miles in the car, we managed to enjoy the company of every single first cousin, aunt, uncle and grandparent on both sides – something I can’t say we’ve done since the girls were littles. Believe me, accomplishing that actually wasn’t the goal – if it had been it never would have worked out so well, right? For some reason, as if I dreamed it, God chose to show me the faces of each of my close blood relatives – like a Hallmark Channel movie, but better still because it isn’t over yet.
I may be lousy at wrapping presents (my hubby is a boss wrapper) but I have a strong pull to not leave loose ends. I finished my MKAL (Mystery Knit-A-Long) on our first long ride of the Christmas holiday, having saved my final clue for Christmas Day because I knew I’d want to have knitting for the car. As the project took shape over a week, it was clear that it would be either an infinity scarf or a cowl, but I wasn’t really sure until I bound off at last what the true shape of it was. Getting to complete this project on our way to NYC made my Christmas even more delicious because it’s so nice to finish something.
Knitters have a term for this too, and we celebrate each FO, (Finished Object). We gush. We preen. And why is that? As all makers know, much of what we set out to knit never ends up as a wearable or gift-worthy garment – far from it. Not everything begun, becomes. Like the shiny New Year’s promises we make to ourselves this time of year, some projects fail to hold our enthusiasm.
I’m thinking a lot about finished objects lately – the things I became this year as days stitched a pattern from the roving of my soul. I often ask in the middle of hardship, is this a trial or an affliction? Am I suffering for foolishness or am I being tested? And generally speaking the answer to my question is to live it out by faith in the One who holds my times in his hands, and at some point the fog will clear on that issue. And in the process, that question will stop really mattering. My husband suffered a crazy freak accident one year ago on Christmas Eve 2014 which resulted in him being in a full leg brace for most of 2015. I quit a job I loved reluctantly. I started a blog and a new job and my husband healed and became even more prized by his employer for the hard work he accomplished. Just this week he received the best review of his life, he told me. So, which was it when he got hurt? Trial or affliction? Which was it when my ministry ended? Suffering or testing?
James 1 has some interesting things to say about the practice of enduring trials. Let me paraphrase: Good news, bro: trials make you badass if you do them right, the kind of badass you get from bench-pressing harsh hope. And pure happiness comes of the craziest ingredients (which, if you saw them sitting in together in a bowl, might make you run headlong for the basin) but only when folded evenly by faith with a Baker’s resolve. So, cheer up, butter cup. Trials look good on you.
Here’s what it really says.
James1:2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. (CEB)
If endurance is the reward of endurance, what’s so great about endurance? About learning the long hard way how to craft a year from the shards of brittle egos? Crystal pure refinement. You just never see it until the sun prisms out AFTER all the questioning dies down. AFTER you’ve passed through the waters which have not overwhelmed. But, oh, the sight of it then. Refinement in us is the glory of God showing off.
Isaiah 43:1 But now, says the Lord—
the one who created you, Jacob,
the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
and flame won’t burn you.
3 I am the Lord your God,
the holy one of Israel, your savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored, and I love you.
I give people in your place,
and nations in exchange for your life.
5 Don’t fear,
I am with you.
He has such a way with words 🙂
Here’s as sweet song to worship God with as you finish up 2015 and get ready for your next adventure. Thanks for being part of mine.