My eighty-eight-year-old mother loves to quilt. Over the years, when I have gone home to visit, I have walked into the house, and I often would find her in her favorite chair, hand quilting her masterpiece. Have you ever taken the time to look deeply at the beauty of a finished patchwork quilt?
I would walk in my mother’s sewing room and see a plethora of fabrics in many colors and designs. She would have them cut and stacked, some having patterns, others are broken mix of pieces. My mother knew every one of those fabrics and in which quilt she would be using them. To me, it was a disorganized mess, but she could see the vision of the finished project. Sometimes she would have three or four quilts going at the same time. Some of them have taken years to finish. Each quilt has been unique. Equally, and beautifully made — all the pieces bound together with love.
Families can be much like these quilts. Some tightly bound together with love and others are a mess of fractured pieces. What do you do when your hopes and dreams for your family become like the broken pieces? When everything you thought was sewn tightly in place, suddenly is ripped apart. Do you, in those times, still believe God is good, or maybe you even imagine God doesn’t love you?
I came from a family where love was not unconditional. Therefore, it was hard for me to believe and understand that God was a God of unconditional love. I also had difficulty showing others that unconditional love. Because of that, I spent many years living under a cloud of shame and condemnation.
This weekend, on two different occasions, I heard the same teaching, once at a bible study, and then yesterday in my church. In John 21:15-17, three times, Jesus asked Peter, do you love me? Each time Peter would answer, “you know I love you.” Jesus would then reply with, “then take care of my sheep, feed my lambs, and feed my sheep.
What does that look like for you? Who are the sheep unknowingly placed before you? Do you sense a need? Can you love them, unconditionally?
Yesterday, I had an extremely busy day ahead of me. I was rushing out the door when I ran into a woman I have known for a few years. To me, she has been the picture of a godly woman and a pillar of strength in the community. — Someone I have always seen Christ within her. A woman with a wholehearted belief. However, yesterday, I sensed a heaviness surrounding her.
As we engaged in conversation, I asked her how she was doing? Over the next few minutes, I carefully listened as she began pouring out her heart about one of her children going through a divorce. Continuing with tears in her eyes, she told me how burdened she was over this and that she never thought she would be facing this in her own family. I sensed the Holy Spirit had brought us together at this moment,” and I stopped right then and prayed with her for her need. We both wept, we hugged. Wiping a tear from her face, she spoke these words, “thank you, I feel like everyone thinks since I am so strong in my faith, and I am such a strong woman, I don’t need their prayers.” My heart broke for her, and I felt the love of Christ happening between us. United as His beloved.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds us all together in perfect harmony. ~ Col. 3:14
How many times do we fail to see a need, to speak truth, life, and love into a person, their situation? To come alongside them with our compassion and empathy and possibly have a priceless memorable encounter that glorifies God. Maybe even a life-changing moment for someone.
I think Jesus did that with Peter after Peter had denied him three times, helping him to remove the shame of his denial. Scripture tells us Peter had a repentant heart, and his life changed when he realized who Jesus truly was. At that moment that transpired between them, Peter felt the self-sacrificial love of Christ and the significance of his death and resurrection. Completely forgiven, He committed his life to the transcendent cause of Christ.
Jesus often digs straight into the depths of our hearts as well, causing us to face our true feelings. Maybe even our motives. However, his command to love others is the highest request he has given us.
“Do you love Jesus?”
I mean, do you unconditionally love Jesus? Do you love Jesus enough when hard times roll in you aren’t going to deny him? How much do you love Him when you don’t take the time to speak love, and spiritual truth into another’s life? Do you take the time from your busy day to step into the lives of others, encouraging them with compassion, empathy, and love? I know I need to walk in love much more than I do and help others God’s great love for them.
How would you respond today if Jesus asked you, “Do you love me?” How many times would he have to ask you?
© Beverly Shoemaker 2019