The worn tablecloth looked homey when I first saw it laying on a table at a yard sale. The cloth’s once bright colors of peach, khaki, and complementary blues and yellows had faded from many washes. It felt similar to the softness of a worn but-still-serviceable blouse. The kind that has finally gotten comfortable enough that it’s a favorite and the owner dreads the day it will become threadbare and no longer wearable. The price was right so I draped the tablecloth on my arm and rummaged through other items. I kept my eye out for pie plates.
Somehow, my pie plates have walked off over the years, all with fresh baked pies warming their interiors. I don’t remember who I gave them to for a treat, but autumn and pie-baking season will be here before we know it. I’m ready for cooler days and a warm oven, instead of hot days when I don’t do much baking.
Did you notice that I rambled over several topics in the above sentences? Did you wonder where this article was going? Maybe not if you think I ramble often.
Better writers only include words that will advance their main point. In the above paragraphs, the blouse, pie plates, weather, and oven statements didn’t really fit the theme of this column. Why did I include them? To show how easily we can get off track, one thing leading to another until we finally float in a direction we never intended.
A life of purpose has specific goals for behavior and work. That person knows that even recreation and rest have a part in restoring balance and bringing energy to the tougher days. The easy, often traveled road is to meander through days without worthy goals. Billy Wilder said, “You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.”
I think that’s what happened to God’s people in the Old Testament. They forgot their calling to represent God, to be holy, opposite of the profane who surrounded them. They drifted away from their purpose for getting up in the morning: for honoring God, respecting life, and loving their neighbors.
When Christ followers drift from whim to whim or pleasure to pleasure, their focal point has shifted from God to self. Each day it’s possible to forget our godly goals. That’s when we may stray from our convictions for a brief moment. Harmon Killebrew, an American professional baseball player, recalled a scene from his childhood in the 1940s: “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass."
Dad would reply, "We're not raising grass. We're raising boys."
When I brought my new used tablecloth home, I imagined it spread over a table on our long front porch. I envisioned a homemade picnic of fried chicken, yeast rolls, baked beans, potato salad, and pickles. And accompanying that meal were fresh sliced tomatoes, lemon meringue pie, and a pitcher of iced tea. However, when I unfolded the tablecloth, it had a huge patch in the center. Still serviceable, it just didn’t quite measure up to my original image of the perfect, old soft picnic cloth.
God can enable us to live all he dreamed for us. But we sometimes drift, our fabric fades, and we lose sight of our original purpose. The beauty of our Creator is his willingness to forgive, remake, renew, and repurpose drifters. Longtime drifters or momentary drifters, when we stray, God loves to put lives back together, but not with a shabby patch that looks make-do. God-mending is perfect, as he weaves in his spirit and a new radiance.
If life’s been threadbare, if you’ve drifted, embrace the words God spoke through the prophet Zephaniah.
Index Card Verse for Week 28: “[D]o not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (3:16-17).
Contact Cathy at http://stainedglasspickup.blogspot.com/