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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fraying edges

I wonder how many times we try to go it alone, only to find ourselves in a worse muddle at the end?  If you are like me (and I kind of think you might just be), you may try things on "your own" for a period of time, simply because you think you've "got everything under control".  Then when the edges begin to fray a bit, you begin to get a little worried, but you still hold onto control.  Why?  The "fraying" is just a little annoyance at this point.  You don't feel the impact of the "unraveling" quite yet - so you plunge ahead on your own.  When do we finally take notice of how much "unraveling" has occurred?  When the full-size blanket is the size of a washcloth!

Love God, all you saints; God takes care of all who stay close to him, but he pays back in full those arrogant enough to go it alone.   Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up. Expect God to get here soon.  (Psalm 31:23-24 The Message)

What happened to make the edges "unravel"?  We either got "snagged" on something (or someone) who just began the process of pulling on the "one thread" which was holding us together, or we never took notice of the "unfinished" edges in our life in the first place.  Either way - we fray!  Let me deal with the "unfinished" edges first.  We often don't recognize areas in our life where God needs to work on us until we begin to see them unraveling a bit.  Sometimes we go for the "quick fix" - like when we cut material with a pair of pinking sheers to "minimize" the unraveling.  The truth is - the edges still unravel - the "pace" is just a little slower!  At other times, we just don't see the "unfinished" parts of our lives - either because we don't look, or because we are too preoccupied with "stuff" to notice.  

When we go with the "quick fix", we miss out on the beauty and security of God finishing our edges!  The quick fix may get us through, but will the end result be as beautiful as he designed it to be?  Not likely.  I am not a true seamstress, but I can put together a garment if I have a pattern to follow.  I have tried to "jump ahead" of the instructions which come with the pattern.  Whenever I do, I usually find myself frustrated with having to rip out the seam and starting over because I sewed the facing on inside out!  Isn't it amazing how much longer it takes to "redo" what we have done?  When we jump ahead of God, we often find the "redo" much longer and harder than if we'd have just followed the directions in the first place!

When we ignore the unfinished edges of our lives, we are in danger of others helping us find them!  Just as an unfinished edge of fabric will begin to unravel by the first thing which snags it, so our unfinished edges will begin to manifest when the "snagging" influences of life sweep across the surface of ours!  There are a whole lot of "snagging" influences in our lives - maybe they are put there to help us see the unfinished edges.  If you have ever tried to "repair" an unraveled edge, you will note quickly the weakening of the material which has unraveled.  The "integrity" of the material is disturbed because as one thread begins to pull out of "alignment" with the others it is interwoven into, the strength of the fabric becomes compromised.  Guess what?  When we begin to have even one "string" of our life pulled by some snagging influence, the integrity of what we think gives us strength begins to be affected.

So, I have talked a whole lot about fabric and not much about our passage, huh?  Not really.  In fact, when we think about what our psalmist says here, it makes sense.  We are never in a better spot than when we are closest to God.  He is the one who protects us from unraveling and he is the one who is in the business of finishing our edges.  But...in order to allow this to occur, we have to be close enough to him to let him "work" the edges.  

One thing I have come to expect in life:  God goes for the edges!  He is focused on what I would not give a moment of thought toward.  He is reluctant to let me unravel by a careless snag.  He wants the integrity of the fabric of my life to be strong - not weakened by some careless snag.  Now, that said, I have to be willing to follow the directions he gives!  Just as I had to read the instructions (and follow them) with the pattern for the garment I made, so I must pay attention to the instructions he gives to provide my life to be perfect with all edges finished.  

There are no short-cuts to God's "finishing" of our edges.  He has in mind a garment of beauty when he looks at your life and mine.  In his eyes, all edges are perfectly finished.  We may jump ahead on occasion, not quite paying attention as we should, but when we do, we either overlook some edge, or we spend a whole lot of time "undoing" what we wish we'd never done!  There is no better place to be than in the hands of the one who "finishes" our edges.  Just remember this:  There are a whole lot of snagging influences just waiting to help unravel our edges!  Weakening our integrity is their main goal.  We guard against this best when we are close enough to Jesus to allow him access to the edges first!  Just sayin...