This week I'm working on the chapter of Waiting for Wonder (the Sarah book) that talks about how Sarah treated the pregnant Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away. I'm thinking about how sometimes we do things that messes up our lives. We "cut holes in our own blanket" (see story below!).
I'm thinking about how Sarah didn't go after Hagar. She wasn't able to restore what she broke. But God did go after Hagar, and brought her back. He was able to restore what Sarah broke.
So, as I ponder and write, and ponder some more, I'm considering rewriting the following story from when Joelle was little. This story talks about how God gives us rules to keep up from cutting up our lives. But I'm also thinking about how he doesn't just leave the gaping holes after we've messed up.
The original story is below. I think I'll rewrite it to emphasize how God also repairs the holes we make, and he does it in ways we could never manage on our own.
JOELLE AND THE SCISSORS
I stood there with the blanket in my hands and tears in my eyes. Light shone through a dozen great, gaping holes in the crocheted blanket. I had made the blanket for my 3-year-old when I was pregnant with her. It was to be a special gift, an heirloom, for her to keep into adulthood. But here it was, filled with holes, with her standing beside me with scissors in her hand.
“Oh, Joelle, how could you?”
Her eyes slid away.
“You know this is your special blanket.”
She sniffed and rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. “I didn’t know.”
I closed my eyes. She was right. She didn’t know. She didn’t understand how special that blanket was, and that I couldn’t replace it, and it would be almost impossible to repair. She didn’t understand what that blanket meant to me, and would one day mean to her. There were a lot of things that didn’t know.
But there were some things she did know. One was that she wasn’t allowed to get the scissors out of the drawer. The other was that she wasn’t to play with her blanket. She didn’t like those rules, didn’t understand them. But today showed the results of breaking them -- a blanket filled with holes.
I took the scissors out of her hand and placed them high up on a shelf. Then, I folded the blanket into a ball.
Joelle chewed her lower lip. “Can you fix it, Mommy?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so, sweetheart. You did a bad thing when you cut it up with the scissors.”
She took a big, gulping sob and then ran to her bed and threw herself into the pillow.
I stood there and didn’t follow. Truth was, I didn’t know what to do or what to say. Nothing could make it all better now. She would just have to live with the consequences, now and into the future. That’s just how it would be.
I went downstairs, spread the blanket on a table, and tried to figure out how I make salvage the mess. As I did, I thought about her words, “I didn’t know.”
How often do I say that same thing to God? I didn’t know that little white lie would come back to bite me. I didn’t know that if I just kept stubbornly pushing for my way, I’d end up regretting it. I didn’t know that if I was rude to that person I would pay for it later. I didn’t know a lot of things.
But I did know that God calls me to the truth, all the time. I knew that God wants me to submit to his will and leadership in my life. I knew he asks me to be kind to everyone, whether I feel like it or not.
As it says in Deuteronomy 4:40 (NIV), “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.”
Sometimes, God’s commands seem restrictive and no fun. But he gives them to me all the same, and the reason he does is because I don’t know – I can’t see how everything will turn out. So he gives me instructions in His Word so that it will go well with me.
And just like Joelle, I can ignore the rules too. I can get a chair, get into the off-limits drawer, and pull out the forbidden scissors. I can have great fun . . . for a moment. But later, there’s going to be tears and things that cannot always be put back the way they were.
So now when I read about God’s commands in the Bible, I remember that they’re there because I don’t know everything, and he’s just trying to keep me from cutting holes in my own blanket.