Monday, September 28, 2015

Quilting Bees, Flat Tires, and the Presence of God

Long ago but not so far away I was invited to a quilting bee. Yeah, laugh. I did. I am not the most crafty of people on the planet and I did not grow up with those pioneering skills so popular among my corner of humanity. As I sat there among the women, most of whom were younger than me, I was shocked to find that I was the only person there who did not know what I was doing. There they sat, these competent women, chatting away with their nimble fingers, zipping needles through fabric as my stubs made feeble attempts to do a stitch here or there, with miserable results. I was baffled. How did they know how to do this? I asked.

"If you want to know how to do something you just learn, Ginny." There was impatience and exasperation and condescension in her voice. I wasn't trying to be whiny or complaining or pathetic. I was just curious. Did these women all grow up with quilting grandmas or something? I felt chastised and ashamed. It was up to me to make sure that I had the competence that was up to snuff.

For the record, a few months later I did teach myself how to quilt. Sort of. Of course the thing fell apart after I washed it but BY GOLLY, I had made a quilt with my own two hands, thank you very much. This time my bootstraps worked. I had (sort of) made it a few steps up the competence ladder.

Not so long ago and even less far away, I had a flat tire. I was alone and pulled into the gas station about 3 miles from home. I called my husband. I wanted so desperately to be competent. To know what to do. How to do it. But I wasn't so sure. He came to me. He stood there and patiently talked me through the entire process. I am sure that it didn't look so good to see a man just standing there, hands in pockets, while this 120 pound woman rolled (yes, literally, rolled) around on the pavement, wrestling a tire into place (it is harder than it looks) and we laughed at what the passers by must have thought.

But I wanted to learn. And he wanted me to learn. So he stood there. Protecting me from other cars. Patiently giving me instructions. So I could learn. So I could do. He did not leave my side until we were sure that the tire was securely in place. And I had learned a new skill.

Long. long ago and far, far away there was a man named Moses. God called him to go to Pharaoh. To talk to Pharaoh. Moses thought he couldn't do it. He didn't have the skill. But God went with him.

Paul Tripp, in his book New Morning Mercies, says it this way:
This life-changing fact is that the God of glory and grace, who calls his people to do his will on earth, always goes with them as they obey his calling. He never sends them without going too. When he sends you, he doesn't give you a bunch of stuff to help you along the way. He always gives you himself because he is what you need and he alone can give you what is required. 
Life is hard. It is scary. We all face things that we are so totally unprepared for. But God does not tell us to just do it. To just pull ourselves up and dig up our own resources and figure it out for ourselves. Like my husband as I changed the tire, God is there with us. Standing over us. Protecting us. Giving us not only the instruction, but the very gift of his presence.  In his economy, companionship trumps competence. And for that I am thankful.