I have been working on a cross-stitch quilted bedspread for many years. Like many things in life that have the potential to be beautiful, but that take a lot of effort, I find that I actually work on it in spurts. In fact, I’m afraid the truth is that the work spurts are often years apart.
I got on a roll recently. I love watching the neatness of the stitches and the various colors of thread unfold the beautiful pattern another artist created for me to work out. However, a few days ago I discovered a terrible mistake.
At some point I had let another person help me with it. The spread is large and there is plenty of material for two of us to work on, so I put another section in the wooden hoop and we sat and stitched and visited and had a wonderful afternoon. After she left, I decided to continue working on the section she had stitched and over the weeks had stitched a fairly substantial section. Thing is, though, recently I realized I was having trouble seeing the crosses that are stamped on the material. I put it down to poor lighting, but it was really a bummer. I mean, I could see the pattern and worked quietly and steadfastly, but it was always nagging at me that the pattern was faded and not clear anymore.
Well, a few days ago I decided to go back and work on the original section I had previously been working on. And I discovered THOSE crosses were much clearer and easier to see. So, suddenly I had a terrible thought. Was it possible….maybe just possible….that when I had set up the material for her to stitch I had put it in the hoop on the wrong side? That is, that this whole time she, and then I, had stitched the beautiful threads on the wrong side of the spread? And, as you have probably guessed, the answer was yes.
So, now I was faced with a dilemma. I actually had two sections of the same piece that had been stitched. One, rather small, one, rather large. Obviously one would have to be removed, but which one? It made sense to re-do the smaller section, but the problem was then I would have to continue sewing it on the wrong side with a faded pattern that was actually difficult to see. Or I could un-do all the work my friend and I had done on the larger area and re-do it correctly. And trust me, un-doing all those stitches was not going to be an easy task.
Well, thankfully for me, I eventually realized that the pattern was not reversible and actually, if I was going to have the bedspread I had set out to make, then yes, all the work would have to be re-done.
So, now I was presented with another problem. How to undo the work I had done incorrectly so that I could proceed correctly. There were actually two ways of doing it that I could see. One would be to use a seam ripper and cut through all the threads, then pull the small pieces out, bit by bit. Or, pick the various ends of stitching in each small design and literally un-do each section, stitch by stich. Pull out each stitch by hand.
Wow. Both were daunting in sound to me, but after a few minutes of working through the sick feeling in my stomach, I began. First, because I really wanted to re-use the thread, I tried it stitch by stich. And it mainly worked ok, but I ran into a few bumps along the way, and it was obviously quite tedious. Besides, I soon realized the thread was not going to be re-usable. So I tried doing it by cutting through the fibers. Actually, a friend was with me and she began doing the cutting. Both of us worked on then pulling the small pieces, but I could see pretty quickly it, too, was going to be time-consuming. I soon realized that the best way, painful as it would be, was going to be undoing it stitch-by-stitch. There would be no shortcut.
When I was finally finished, there were many small holes left from the needle entries, but I realized that when I re-did it on the correct side (which I now saw was clearly marked and not faded), the holes would disappear into the new stitches and the spread would still be the beautiful covering it was designed to be.
As I ponder over this event, I see a truth begin to emerge, worth my consideration. I could actually draw several different parallels, but the one I am going to focus on is that of a believer, working on the tapestry of her life. She recognizes the necessity of the cross and is working the stitches correctly at first. Then something else presents itself, she goes on a different course, and at some point she realizes that now the going is a bit more difficult. That she is not seeing the pattern as clearly. That something is simply not right. But she is seeing something and so continues to stitch away oblivious to the sad reality that she is now working on the wrong side of the pattern…not on the side it was designed to be. The crosses are not clear any longer. She has the aha moment and wrestles through the gut-wrenching reality that what she has put much effort into must not only be re-done, but must first be undone. In a sense, she must now renounce a great deal of what she has put herself into before she can actually proceed forward, once again following the crosses that had been stamped for her to see.
The analogy ends when we understand the incredible and awesome truth that in our lives it is Jesus who unravels the wrong stitches, not us. Many times we try to use the ripper and cut through sections at a time, but trust me, pulling those teeny bits of thread is a lot harder that it appears.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us the pattern of the cross. Please help us stay on the right side of the fabric and not let other things take us to the faded side. It looks the same on the surface, but a little bit of stitching soon begins to show us that something is wrong. Thank you for being the Redeemer who then comes in and undoes all the wrong we did, turns the fabric over, and then continues to give us the true pattern to follow.
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