The first book series I remember reading was called The Chronicles of Prydain by Llyod Alexander. Sadly, Disney didn’t do a very good job when they made The Black Cauldron into a film … but don’t let that put you off. The stories follow Taran, a young lad who is an assistant pig keeper thrown into an adventure that shows him he is destined for great things – in my opinion all good books have this theme! Taran happens upon three old women in a shack in the marsh. They are completely potty enchantresses who work on a loom. The material they are producing is messy and seems to have no pattern. But as Taran looks at the material it seems to have figures and patterns that move. They are weaving the tapestry of life. Taran wants to look closer and see his story but it is not his time to know the ending.
I am reminded of these books because Job talks about his days being swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope in Job 7:6. Have you ever seen someone weave on a loom? There are threads going lengthwise (warp) and then there is the thread that is wrapped around the shuttle that is pushed through the alternating warp threads called the weft. In a machine, even an older wooden model, the shuttle can fly back and forth with great speed while the warp threads are manipulated by pedals. Job considers his days flying past and ending without hope. Do you ever feel like that? When we are in pain or suffering life can not only feel like that but often looks like that to us too.
If our days are like the weaver’s shuttle than our lives are like a piece of woven fabric. In our times of pain, we can be like Job’s friends and be looking at the wrong side. They viewed him as a man who was being punished by GOD. They saw the loose ends and broken threads and they judged him by what they saw. We do the same. We can see all the untidiness and all the confusion and not realise that this is the wrong side. We can despise the season we are in because there is no order or it feels uncomfortable. It is just too messy.
Job is stuck. All he sees is this underside of his tapestry. Everything has been turned upside down. He was favoured by GOD and now it seems that GOD is punishing him and he doesn’t understand. His friends seem to reinforce this idea of punishment and tell him that it is his fault that the design has gone wrong, he is that one that has messed up. Everyone seems focused on the loose ends, knots and tangles.
When things get difficult it is very easy to focus on the wrong thing, the wrong side of the fabric. Our problems can appear to be massive knots and our situations full of loose threads with no cohesion. I don’t like to see this side at all but it can be so captivating. I am often tempted to try to sort out the knots, cut off threads and make something less ugly out of it. I don’t know if you have ever tried to untie a knot that just gets worse the more you tug on it, or trimmed a loose thread only to see it produce a hole as it unravels. It makes me feel uncomfortable for everything to be so untidy and un-ordered. My misguided intervention is not what is needed. So what should I do? I do have a choice! Do I stay fixated on the mess or do I change my perspective?
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
GOD sees the whole picture and the pattern in the chaos. He works all things for good. He works the mismatched yarns, odd lengths, knots and tangles into a pattern. He takes the difficult and the pleasant things of my life and weaves with them. Sometimes I see the design and sometimes I don’t … I just need to remember what side of my woven fabric I am looking at.
One way forward is to stop picking at the mess (No really! Stop it!) and ask what GOD’s thoughts are on it. He might give you strategies to untie knots or methods to tuck in the ends … but He might not. You see the “messes” become part of our unique design. How we live through those times can produce the most intricate details and delicate patterns.
I’m not going to be looking at the completed work all the time. I will catch glimpses of it much like Taran did. Hopefully those moments of revelation in seeing my destiny will motivate me to allow the weaver’s shuttle to fly back and forth through the material that I am a part of. Our weaver is skilled and in His right mind, He is working to a pattern that He knows and wants to produce something of beauty. He doesn’t waste His time or His creativity.
A few prayer pointers: Help me to discern what side of the fabric I am looking at. Don’t let me trim, unpick or untie anything without your instruction – or grab at the shuttle! Keep me soft to the pattern you are weaving.