Faith Reflections

Begin with the Tangles

When I was younger, I used to cross-stitch. Cross-stitch is a form of sewing and counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture. It can be tedious and easy to get all your threads twisted up or to count wrong and mess up the picture.

In those moments, instead of learning from my mistakes, I would place the unfinished pattern in a drawer and move on to a new project. Over the years, I gathered quite a collection of unfinished projects in that drawer. There was a little Native American girl and boy pattern I still feel guilty about to this day because I never finished. The stories they could have told had I finished cross-stitching their mouths.

I heard someone once say, No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

Starting over is more than shutting something in a side drawer and moving on. Truly starting over is to first sit with the tangled threads and the unfinished work and learn from it – showing the same grace and tenderness to ourselves that Christ shows to us. It begins with owning our responsibility for the tangles and inviting God to do the hard work of helping us sort things out so we don’t carry them in the drawers of our hearts and minds.

Starting over is a gift, not an excuse for running from unfinished business …. or unfinished projects.

“He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

 Matthew 3:12 (MSG)

This devotion first appeared in the 2019 Advent Devotion book for First Baptist Church, Jefferson City.

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