Monday, August 5, 2013

God's Tapestry

Sheldon Tapestry

Several year ago I worked with a couple helping them decorate their Williamsburg style home. As an interior designer, I often have the opportunity to learn about many beautiful and historical decorative items and this job was no different. In my search to fill a wall in their sitting room, I found a very large oil painting on canvas. The painting was a pastoral scene and hung unframed. I learned that this piece was called a "tapestry cartoon."

Tapestry cartoons were created as models for a woven tapestry. They were huge full scale paintings and by the mid-17th century were done mostly in oil on canvas. The design of these cartoons was used to produce actual woven tapestries. A transfer process that was quite harmful to the cartoon itself allowed artisans to reproduce the cartoon image onto the tapestry. For that reason, tapestry cartoons are a rare commodity.

Although extremely beautiful, these cartoons are not dimensional. They are flat representations of what will soon be a multidimensional product. Only through the process of destroying the cartoon and weaving multiple threads together in a variety of colors and fibers, can a truly magnificent tapestry be created. 

We can look at our lives as the journey of a tapestry cartoon. 

When I married and thought about having children, I had a very distinct and rigid picture in my mind of what my life and my children would be like. Over-achievers, ballet dancers, football quarter backs, all A students, with impeccable manners, clear skin, straight white teeth and the ability to fly- just kidding, but you get my point! This version of my life is what I now refer to as a "tapestry cartoon." A flat and unrealistic view of what I thought our lives were supposed to be. 

Because when my children came along and brought with them no desire for hair bows, no interest in ballet, found more joy in playing in mud puddles than having tea parties, would rather design computer avatars than play football, and could never remember to say "Yes ma'am," I realized that the joke was on me. Like a cartoon, this life tapestry that I had created in my mind now evoked a humorous and sometimes confused and angry response on my part as I looked at what I thought life would be like versus God's plans for me and my family.

Thankfully, over time, I have realized that God has a beautiful sense of humor and that He knows much better than I do what is really important in life. Through the hands of this Master Weaver, my tapestry cartoon was destroyed. But in His infinite wisdom, I now have a tapestry that is much more intricate, beautiful, interesting, and meaningful than a cartoon imitation. Through His hands of grace, I have children who are developing character, perseverance, and a love of Jesus Christ. They are creative and intelligent. They are multidimensional in every way, from my daughter's ADHD and dyslexia, to her desire to own and operate a farm, and to be an artist and a teacher. From my son's shyness and lack of organizational skills, to his quest to research history, find treasures, experience new and exciting things, and follow his dream of becoming a pilot (maybe he'll fly after all!). The threads God has planned for my children are being continually woven into a tapestry of His divine making.

In my humanness, I could never have orchestrated or imagined this tapestry. If you had described it to me earlier in my life, I might have said I wanted no part of this weaving lesson. But I am slowly learning that only our Creator can take our lives, with our stands of fine silk and rough cord, and weave them into beauty. And although we may not realize the beauty initially, as we stand back and take a look at the bigger picture, changing our focus from the slubs of one thread to the glorious image of thousands of threads woven into a masterpiece designed by Him, we can see the glory of His creation.  

The even lovelier thing is that His weaving skills do not stop with one person and then start with the next. Instead, we are all woven together into a magnificent and colorful tapestry; each connected to the other, allowing us the opportunity to encourage and support one another through this journey we call life. 

We never know how our lives will turn out. Our plans have a way of becoming flat and meaningless when we compare them to the depth and texture of God's plans. We can't begin to understand how what we perceive as tragedy can turn into something meaningful, a true blessing. But God understands. This is the beauty of the Master Weaver and His divine tapestry.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 NLT

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