October 9, 2001
Like millions around the world, I have been bitten by the quilting bug and often mention this passion to people I meet. Some of them look at me with a frown and say “I don’t have the patience to make a quilt.”
That remark puzzles me. I cannot imagine why this enjoyable pastime requires patience. To me, quilt construction is like therapy. I’m enjoying the process, relaxed and absorbed and never getting quite enough of it. To me, patience implies waiting for something to happen. I suppose there is a sense of wanting the quilt to be finished yet making it is part of its pleasure. Quilting is not something to rush or be anxious about.
The dictionary also defines patience as “the capacity to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without becoming angry or upset.” Those not interested in quilting (or any other handwork) may find themselves anxious to get it finished. They may be frustrated without the skill or equipment to do it properly. They might poke themselves so many times with their needles that the task is a trial not a delight. But for me, the process of quilting is relaxing in itself. If I never finished a quilt, the time spent working on it lowers my blood pressure and gives me great pleasure. The joy is in the journey and finishing it is like frosting on a cake.
Nevertheless, patience also intrigues me. The Bible describes it as a virtue, something to be desired. It says God is patient toward us and we need to be patient with one another. Another word for patience is ‘long-suffering’ or ‘endurance.’ For many reasons, life can be difficult but the person with patience is able to bear with those trials and continue walking with God. They have the right attitude, even though they are being tested. They also trust God for the outcome.
Maybe I’ve stumbled across the key to patience in my attitude toward quilting. While skill and strength are needed (try moving a queen-size quilt under a regular sewing machine arm), I can look at each step as an enjoyable challenge. I’m not fussing because the piece is not done yet but enjoying the process, relishing the challenges of the section or step that I am working on at the moment.
This patience is much like God’s patience with His people. We are not finished either. He is at work in our lives but we have a long way to go. Nonetheless, God is not anxious about us. He never goads or nags but like a parent, He delights in each wobbling step we take toward maturity. Can I not be like that with others?
Our Father urges us, like infants, to desire the Word of God so we will grow. He takes our hand as His children and walks with us, promising to “never leave or forsake” us. He challenges us as mature adults, yet never forgets we are “like dust” and frail. He tolerates our mistakes because they are not only forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ, but He can use each one to teach us more about being godly people.
The Amish purposely put a mistake in their quilts. They say to make a perfect quilt would be an insult to God. I’m not sure God is so easily insulted. Instead, as His people, we need to be aware that we are flawed with many mistakes. Yet God, who is the Master Craftsman, will patiently continue His work in us, moving pieces, patching rips, rearranging colors, until we are as He intended.
One day, those who trust Him will be ushered into His presence. The Bible says “we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Until we are perfected in heaven, we remain in process, unfinished. Even at that, Scripture says “He rejoices over us with singing!” That tells me that while we are being remade in His image, He is also enjoying the process.