Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Quilt of Grace

I cannot begin to contemplate the width, the depth, the magnitude of the grace of God. Just don’t get it. The definition is clear: getting what we don’t deserve. But a gift of grace is one thing. A kind word uttered to me when I am harboring some serious unkind thoughts. John cleaning out my car for me when it was me alone who trashed it. (He did this last Sunday afternoon – better than a dozen roses to me.) Simple, wonderful acts of grace I can wrap my mind around.

But living a lifetime ensconced by God’s grace? Do I really walk around with this invisible quilt on which the hand of God has sewn “This is my girl”- Me?

I don’t get this. At all.

In fact, I find myself trying to ditch the quilt just because my mind, my flesh tells me I don’t deserve it. I am a hypocrite to even associate myself with it.

But then…ahhh. I sit with elbows on the table, hand in my chin and I grin. Ahh. The point is that simple choice of holding on to His gift for me. The quilt is a covering of love born of His choice to allow His Son to die for me. Of course I don’t deserve it. I have a black heart of sin and I always will. But His grace, that quilt that covers me, warms me and gives me the freedom to live life to the fullest. So I hold on for dear life and turn my head upward in thanks.

It happened for me this year. At least it is beginning to happen. For the first time in my life, I am experiencing true freedom. The bondage that I have struggled with my entire existence on Planet Earth is falling away, shackle by shackle. I am finding myself truly loving who God made me to be. With each of those moments, I am chunking, throwing away, trashing, disposing of and eliminating every single thought of “It matters what other people think of me.”

This is a miracle. My life has been dictated, at least largely, by what other people might think of my actions or looks. But that quilt, that beautiful hand stitched covering is providing the security that I always sought in others. I have been a Christian since I was fourteen years old. 31 years! Why now? Why didn’t I fly with the freedom of Christ as a teenager or young woman or even an older wife and mom? The answer is clear – I am a slow learner. But those years, those struggles, made me who I am today. In His tapestry, I was woven exactly how I should be. In my choices, both wrong and right, I walked toward this freedom.

My mother made quilts. Each of the ones that she made was pieced together with scraps of the materials she used to make us clothes. In her masterpieces I see memories of recital dresses and shirts I wore in school pictures. I see her, too. She is sitting at the kitchen table, bent over and working diligently, stitch by stitch. I see her looking up at me and smiling, probably adding a wink. She did that a lot. I miss her every day.
But her quilts also provide a great object lesson for me in grace. On the last Christmas before she died, my mom gave my siblings and me quilts she had made, each one a gift of herself. A gift of grace. And just like today when I wrap up in her quilt and remember this wonderful woman, I can use a mixture of imagination and faith and see myself walking through life covered in God’s quilt He made for me. A beautiful covering of grace that is meant to be used and gripped.

In His grace, I can laugh at myself. In His grace, I can accept myself and every pound that goes with me. In His grace, I can speak to other women about Christ’s love and not worry that I am not a perfect teacher. In His grace, I can dream and work toward being a writer and enjoy the process without obsessing about publication. In His grace, I can dance with my husband and son and love them as they so deserve to be loved.

I still don’t get it. His grace is just too big. But today, I can snuggle under a blanket and look up and smile. I can’t wrap my mind around His grace, but I can let His grace wrap around me.


cj marley said...

I am so proud of you!

Loretta said...

It's snowing today! Each snowflake is unique just like each one of us is unique. God loves you for your uniqueness, Robbie and so do I.

Sharon said...

What a lovely post! Yes, God's grace is truly amazing and we are so blessed to have such a loving God! Your husband sounds like a real sweetie too!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Kay said...

Amen. That's all I can say.

Jan Parrish said...

Robbie, that's so beautiful! I can tell your burden is lighter and you are walking in freedom. Praise God!

Robbie Iobst said...

Carol Jo, I love my auntie!!

Loretta, are you going to blog about snowflakes? I bet there is great science/faith there!

Sharon, Thanks and yes, my man is wonderful!

Kay and Jan, You guys are so faithful to encourage me!!!

THANKS everyone for commenting!!

tonya said...

Oh Robbie, I love reading your posts. They make my heart sing.

God has spoken to me through quilts too. I was at the Denver Art Museum and they had an exhibit of Amish quilts. Such love, such dedication.

Quilts show me that God doesn't need a lot to work with to make something beautiful. That is my hope in this life.