Monday, September 22, 2014

French Hem Gospel

I’ve been quilting for 20 years now and sewing even longer. I learned to sew in middle school and got my first sewing machine 25 years ago. I’ve made stuffed rabbits, doll clothes, costumes, clothes for myself, bible covers, tote bags, wall hangings, baby gifts, and quilts. Even with all my experience, I still make sure I reread the directions before I start, measure twice and cut once, and check to make sure I have my right sides together before I sew the seam so I don’t have to rip the stitching out. I hate ripping out the seam – it’s not fun and if I’m not very careful while ripping, I could rip right through the fabric making that piece unusable.

This weekend, I made a couple of pillow cases using a French hem. I’ve never used this technique before. It’s often used with delicate fabrics to prevent unraveling ends and provides a clean, finished, professional look to the project. To do this stitch, I had to go against everything I’ve learned in my 25 plus years of experience and sew my seams with the wrong sides facing each other. As I sewed, every part of me was screaming…NO! Stop! This isn’t right and you’re going to have to rip out all this stitching! I had to remind myself the whole time I ran the stitch that the pattern explicitly calls for me to do it this way—even if it is completely backwards.

As I was putting the finishing touches on my project pieces, it occurred to me that God’s way is like a French seam when it comes to life. Think about it. Jesus and God’s Word (the expert and the pattern) tell us we are to love our enemy and bless those who do evil against us. We are to visit the sick and imprisoned. We are supposed to give at least 10% of our earnings to God through charity. That all sounds just a little backwards, doesn’t it?

Why would I love someone who hates me? And while we all admire people like Mother Theresa who spent her life caring for the lepers and HIV/AIDS victims in India and Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both of whom went to West Africa to help Ebola victims and contracted the disease themselves—which of us would really leave behind everything to join them? Let’s talk about visiting the murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and the Bernie Madoffs of the world in prison. Prison is a scary place and they deserve to be there. Besides, what is there to talk about with people like that? And who in their right mind would do anything good to someone who has hurt them or worse? And 10%! Is God serious? I work hard for what I earn and I don’t have a lot of wiggle room in my budget to begin with.

But God is serious about all of it. It looks wrong. It’s certainly counter-cultural and some of it just isn’t safe, but God knows what he’s talking about and when we do what he says and follow his lead, we experience what God has promised in his Word—salvation, reconciliation with God, joy of serving others, and the peace and freedom that comes from loving the Lord above all else.

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