When Ripping Seams Brought Me To My Knees

I’m thrilled to share today’s guest post with you.  Sharon Powers is my dear friend that after serving in the American church (on staff with me) felt God lead her into the international mission field.  I’ve been so honored to be part of Sharon’s journey as I regularly pray for her and got to be involved in the season of her life in which God called her to a foreign place.  Sharon currently serves in Taiwan on a brand new adventure with God.  I love the story Sharon shares with us today.  It is real and practical and speaks to grit of our need.  

I have always enjoyed craft projects…making beaded bracelets, crocheting, cross stitching, scrapbooking, quilting…really anything I can make with my hands.  But I am a perfectionist. If it doesn’t turn out right the first time I usually try to fix it but then give up if it turns out to be too difficult.  That was true until I discovered scrapbooking while attending seminary in New Orleans.

With scrapbooking I discovered that making a mistake was not a project ending event.  I mean all you have to do with a scrapbooking mistake is slap a sticker (or some other beautiful embellishment) on it and on you go with your page.  No big deal.  This was actually very therapeutic for me because I needed to let go of the “it has to be perfect” grip I had on things I made.  After all, we are told from a young age, “No one is perfect,” right?

My mom has always been amazing with making things with her hands.  I grew up wearing a lot of clothes she made for me. Both of my grandmothers sewed, and one was a seamstress. So, you would think sewing blood would pump through my veins.  The problem with sewing is when you make a mistake you have to rip it all out and start over. Not my cup of tea. After all I am from the “gotta have it and have it now” generation.

In the spring of 2009, I found myself in Richmond, VA for 8 weeks of missions training.  At our training center there was a place called the “Quilting Quad” where many people went to make beautiful lap quilts, purses, and many other sewing projects.  It sounded like a nice place of retreat from our training but, quite honestly, I avoided it for the first 2-3 weeks simply because I didn’t want to deal with sewing. It would be too messy when the mistakes happened…and there was NO doubt mistakes would happen.

One day I timidly walked into the Quilting Quad determined to only sit and fellowship…no sewing for this scrapbooking girl. That all changed when I walked into the fabric room. Everything was organized by color and so beautiful.  Some oriental fabrics caught my eye and I decided I had to try to make a lap quilt. Mrs. Bobbie assured me she would be there every step of the way to help.  So my quilting adventure began.

Me & Mrs. Bobbie

Me & Mrs. Bobbie

Cutting out the squares and sewing them together to make the quilt top was really not a big challenge. It was actually fun to watch the cut up fabric be transformed into something beautiful.  Once the quilt top was finished I needed to stretch and pin it to the inner batting and the back fabric. Things were moving along very nicely.  I had watched others work on their quilts without any problems so I assumed my adventure would be the same. I could not have been more wrong.

As I sat down to begin the actual quilting process something didn’t feel quite right.  I was wrestling with my quilt as I tried to get it to stay straight in the sewing machine. I mean I was using every arm and abdomen muscle I had just to keep it going in the right direction. This was FAR from what I had seen the other quilters experiencing so I asked for some help. Sweet Mrs. Bobbie assured me I was doing it right and not to worry, everything would be okay.  But the sewing machine was getting the better of me.  After about an hour and a half the frustration and tears had reached a point where I needed to walk away and get calmed down.

I walked outside to a bench and sat down and cried a big ugly cry. I told God how much I hated sewing. This experience I was having was exactly the reason I didn’t want to try to make a quilt in the first place. This was why I preferred scrapbooking to sewing. With scrapbooking when you make a mistake you just slap a sticker on it and move on, but with sewing you have to rip it all out and start over. Then God asked this heart piercing question, “Sharon, which way do you deal with the sin in your life when I reveal it to you? Do you put a pretty sticker over it when what I need to do is rip it out, so you can become the truly beautiful creation I intend you to be?” Ummm, I was speechless and humbled.

When I walked back into the Quilting Quad, Mrs. Bobbie was sitting at my sewing machine with my quilt. The problem ended up being that the workers had not put the quilting foot on properly. I was thankful they had found the problem, but quickly told her that God had a bigger purpose in the problem. He needed to have a little chat with me and teach me a very important lesson.

sharon quilt

So, how do we deal with the sin in our hearts when God reveals it to us? Sin isn’t pretty, not matter how many beautiful things we try to cover it with.  

 Sin is just ugly and messy and must be removed.  The removing part isn’t fun or easy, but absolutely necessary if we are to become the beautiful creations God intends us to be.

I still love scrapbooking…and yes I still like the easiness of using stickers to cover up my scrapbooking “boo-boo’s.” But I now have a new love and appreciation for sewing.  I went on to make a total of 3 lap quilts and two tote bags during my final 5 weeks of training.  Now, each time I sit down to the sewing machine, I remember the God-chat on that spring Virginia day and am thankful the quilting foot was put on wrong.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Question: When have you tried to cover up a sin instead of remove it?  What happened?  

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