Amid bone china teacups and other mementos of a life graciously lived, we found a crumpled piece of completed needlepoint. Blue background still brilliant, red flowers still glowing, each stitch still precise, yet there it lay, unused and forgotten, unclaimed. I guessed its original purpose was either as a chair seat cover or to upholster a footstool commonly used in the late 19th- early 20th-century. When queried about its origin and designer, my mother-in-law somewhat nonchalantly commented, “Oh, my mother made that when she was pregnant with me.” This still beautiful piece of stitchery was over 100 years old! When immediate family members insisted they didn’t want the item, I happily made my claim. Later I entrusted it to a professional who skillfully stretched and framed it, and since that day, displayed on our living room wall, it has been admired and its creator remembered. It has been reclaimed and repurposed.
On this day after Easter, I can think of no greater description of God’s work in Christ on the cross: the Savior made the ultimate, costly sacrifice to reclaim and repurpose all that had been damaged, lost, even forgotten in the Garden. Found only in the Gospel of John, Jesus’ “It is finished” cry on the cross—the Greek word translated tetelestai—is an accounting term that means “paid in full.” One scholar adds, “The perfect tense (of the word) indicates that the progress of the action has been completed and the result of that action is ongoing and with full effect.” In other words, Jesus has redeemed us, is committed to current action of forming us into the image of Christ, and will one day present us to the Father, full and complete.
It’s that current action—shall we call it the “stretching, framing” action?—that frequently makes us edgy and impatient. We inevitably walk through the floods and fires of life, forgetting it’s exactly in the process of walking—hand in hand with Christ and with our eyes firmly fixed on God’s purposes—which will produce a beautiful finished product fit for the Father’s glory.
Why is it so easy to misinterpret and resist the process? God gave the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, a vivid lesson. He sent him to the house of a potter to watch the craftsman working at his wheel. From the New English Translation of the Bible we read Jeremiah’s description of what he saw: Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot (the potter) was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another pot as he saw fit.
Here’s my variation of the next few verses: Then the Lord said to me, “I, the Lord say,” Oh, Marilyn, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay. In my hand, you, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.’”
Two pieces of art: needlepoint and a clay pot. Both reclaimed and repurposed for God’s glory.