I remember my grandmother making a patchwork quilt. She would use our old work clothes and towels. Sometimes an ocasional worn out Sunday dress outfit. She would cut them into pieces. She saved only the best for the quilt. The worst were discarded as rags.
Those best remnants removed from the tattered clothing, placed into amazing designs and patterns. Sewn together with warmth, love and joy. The worst always set aside. Used to clean up the dirt, spoils and spills.
Then discarded as trash. Just filthy rags. No soap , she said. No detergent could clean those rags. They were left to be burned in the fire pit and the ashes blown into the wind.
I am reminded that life is kinda like a grandmothers quilt..The best pieces kept in our memories. Those in which our lives which are filled with love family, joy and God. Those pieces that give us wisdom. Patterns created that are gracious, patient, tolerant and understanding.
Then there are life's rags.The fabric of our life, times and events sewn together which are at covered in the sins of man, The filthy rags. The pieces that were once whole and new now full of holes, ragged and empty destroyed by our sins of lust, greed, and envy. The unclean soiled past that harbors the undesirables of guilt, shame and, in many cases, the acute awareness of spiritual uncleanliness.
1 John 1-8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Isaiah 64:6: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
History tell us that a quilt was also once called a gambeson. The gambeson was used both as a complete armor unto itself and underneath a cushion to the body that would chafing. It was very insulatory and thus uncomfortable, but its protection was vital for the soldier.
As a soldier in the Army of the Lord, we too must put on the a quilt (armor). The full armor of God.
Ephesians 6:13-17: Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I remember my grandma's quilt of remnants. It was made with three sailing ships designed into it on every row. She told me that they were to remind me that no matter what row of life I may be on or even where life may take me, that there was always a first ship ahead of me to pull me through. My second ship whose destiny I controlled. A third ship behind me to remind me that I too must assist others. She had names for the ships.
The first ship, FAITH. Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. She told me to always believe in God and His promises. Then no matter the storm, no matter the tempest, there would always be a blessing ahead for me. It may not come when you want, or be the blessing you desire, but it will always be the one you need.
The second ship she named LOVE. John 3-16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. She told me that in life there would be a time that you must give of myself to others. A time to feel the needs of others and offer emotional support to their woes. Comfort them in distress.
The third ship following mine was named CHARITY. 1 Corinthians 13:22: And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. She said give and it will be given back many times over. It does not have to be money or material things, but time spent with another as a helping hand. She said give and it will be given unto you.
Grandpa said that Grandma made some of the best quilts. They were created with a bible message and offered to the grand kids as a covering of warmth, love, and protection. Her quilts were a profession of what she believed. Her belief in the full armor of God. His truth and righteousness. The gospel of faith, love, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. They are the tools God has given us, through praise to Him that we can be spiritually victorious, overcoming Satan’s attacks and temptations.
Grandpa said even though the quilts when new were fresh and clean, that after a time when they became worn, that they were even better. Full of holes, how could that be? Then I read from an unknown author:
"As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.
"Before each of us, our lives were laid out, like the cloth squares of a quilt, in many piles. An angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that represented our entire life.
"As my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares looked. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult; the challenges and temptations I had faced in life every day. The hardships I had endured were the largest holes of all.
"I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color, the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.
"Like binding air, my angel sewed together the ragged pieces of cloth that seemed threadbare and empty.
"The time came when each life had to be displayed and held up to the light--the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each person holding up their own tapestries; so filled their lives had been. My angel looked up and nodded for me to rise.
"My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't possessed all the earthly fortunes. I had possessed love and laughter in my life, but there had also been trials of illness, wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world. I had needed to start over many times. I had often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I had also spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often endured ridicule. But each time I had offered my pain up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt beneath the judgmental gaze of other people.
"But now I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.
"I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.
"An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.
"Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image: the face of Christ.
"Then the Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, 'Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life represents each time you stepped aside and let Me shine through until there was more of Me than there was of you.'"
May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!
I still have that old sailing ship quilt. Yes it has a few holes, but when I look into them, I see Grandma's love for me and I see Jesus Christ shining through her.