Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tailor Made

I had a personal tailor growing up.  Sounds a bit posh, doesn't it?  But I really did.  My father was a tailor (always will be a tailor), and of course the best tailor around.  All my life, he took care of my alterations with expert care. He knew how I was built. One arm just a tiny bit longer than the other, one hip a little off, and an ever fluctuating waistline. He altered my clothes perfectly and instinctively.

Over the past few years though, his eyesight has dimmed and he can't tailor the way he could when his vision was sharp.  I remember shopping with confidence knowing he could fix anything that didn't fit me quite right. So, I wouldn't hesitate to buy things that needed altering. I knew he would be ready and willing to make the necessary changes to my clothes, transforming them to fit my crooked body.   

This is my sewing machine.  It belonged to my dad.
Now a days, I know I can't run to my dad to make alterations for me. 
I miss being able to go to him to customize the fit of my clothes. I am sure I could find someone I trust, but having my dad alter my clothing has been a lifelong event, a special "thing". A thing I just don't feel I can hand over to someone else. He could look at a garment and know exactly how to work with it. For me,he took what looked impossible to the possible. He would examine something I bought and could tell if he could work with it.  I had one hundred percent assurance that when he would be done with it, it would be perfect.

Just as my dad has been my personal tailor all my life, I think of Jesus as my spiritual tailor. There have been many things I've taken on that don't fit me so well.  Things like anger, judgment, self-pity, doubt. Shall I go on?  Things that only HE could turn into something better and "perfect". Jesus takes those things that don't look good on us and transforms them into something more. Something beautiful.  I recently heard a discussion about how we often think we are not enough. Not pretty enough, skinny enough, good enough, etc.  Can we just stop this thinking?  Can we remember that we can take those thoughts to Christ? These thoughts need alterations!  It is in those moments, that we must remember that we can go to Jesus with confidence.  He stands in the gap, fills it, and makes us enough.  He applies his TRUTH to our lives! He is the one that takes a poor fit (a lie we believe) and alters it.

My dad took something that didn't fit me and changed it into something flattering. He could transform a garment so that it looked like it was custom made just for me.  What are you wearing these days that doesn't fit right?  Go to Christ with confidence. He will alter whatever it is and will change it into something that designed to fit you perfectly.  

I will go before you and make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name,am the God of Israel... Isaiah 45:2-3

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Making the most of my messes

The painting was really sad. It was supposed to depict a cluster of grapes, but it looked like a diseased raspberry instead. I’m talking about an experience at one of those painting parties, where you follow the instructions of a talented teacher and your great hope is that yours will look as good as hers. Oh, and did I mention they served wine at this party?  I think it was supposed to help?  Hmmm, not so much. I am not being hard on myself. I am being a realistic critic, and my completed painting really was a mess.  I took it home and tucked it in a corner where I would not see it.  Face down, out of sight, out of mind.  

Not too long ago, when I was cleaning my space, I came across it and I cringed.  Instead of putting it away again, I did the next best thing.  I painted right over it.  Yep, covered up the evidence, covered up the mess. I felt relief. Not a single grape existed anywhere on that canvas.  With a few quick brush strokes I had a “new” canvas that I could use for something better and more beautiful!  Something worth looking at.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could cover some of the messes that I’ve “painted” in my life?  The messes that I made because of bad decisions, selfishness, shame or whatever… (it’s a long list). If only those messes could be covered and made new with a big, broad brush stroke, leaving no evidence of the unpleasantness. If only.   

God’s word says this is possible. In the story of the prodigal son, a father grants his son’s demands for his inheritance.  You may be familiar with the story.  The son leaves his father’s home and squanders all of his inheritance.  At his lowest point, he realizes the mess he’s made of his life, and decides to go back to his father’s home.  He wonders if perhaps his father might take him back as a lowly servant.  Humility has caused a pivotal change in the son's heart, and so he makes his way back home. The father, seeing his son from a distance, is filled with love and compassion.  He runs towards his son with arms wide open.  So open, that he instructed his servants to prepare a party to celebrate his homecoming! 

This is a picture of how God reacts to us when we realize our mess is too much to handle.  When we approach HIM, he is ready to welcome us, receive us, forgive us and transform us.  Yes, He wipes our canvas clean. We can go to him with humility.  We can go with our mess. He is there.   

What kind of mess have you tried to cover up on your own?  Why not give it to him so he can make something new, something beautiful out of it. You will not be disappointed. You will find great joy in knowing your Father in Heaven has been waiting for you all along.

But I wipe away your sins because of who I am.  And so, I will forget the wrongs you have done.  Isaiah 43:25

Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.  Romans 4:7-8

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23