Heaven’s Weaving Revealed [Republished]

The Holy Spirit is prompting me to share this with you all again. May it bless whom it is sent and destined to bless.

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 4’s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward the fourth free will offering of blue thread.

There are times when we don’t realize that the blue thread of Heaven has been joining our lives with others until many years later. It’s only in the pausing and looking back that we can see the shining of Heaven as God’s Holy Spirit gives us a small glimpse of His presence among us. Such was the case with my dear friend and her English Nana.

We became Mom-friends as we walked our young kids to school every day. But we became heart-friends as we shared the struggles we each were facing. She wasn’t used to someone like me who brought the Lord into all of my moments. I wasn’t used to someone like her who loved me so unconditionally. 

And when her British Nana came to visit, we all shared our love for tea together, lingering long while the cream swirled in our cups. Her Nana rejoiced to find another Jesus follower who loved the old hymns. We chattered and reminisced as the rest of the family sat silently by. 

Nana’s health tottered precariously during her next visit, and hospice services were called into their home. I hoped I wasn’t overstepping my bounds as I felt an urgency to write out the lyrics to our favorite hymn and carried it with me to visit her.

Her eyes fluttered open when I said I had brought a hymn to share. “Will you sing it to me?” she quietly asked. As the tune came weakly through my tears, I witnessed a hush come over my spirit. The veil between the now and the not yet was swept away for those moments, and I felt Heaven was so much nearer than I had ever realized.

Nana stepped across that veil not long afterwards, and it was only a few months later that I was facing that same crossing with my own father. Nana’s passing had prepared me for glimpsing Heaven with my Dad.

But it wasn’t until I recently paused and heard the sweet words of my dear friend, that I glimpsed the thread of Heaven that had woven us all together in Christ. My friend shared how my words had pointed her to look up and find how deeply Jesus loved her. And I shared with her how her friendship had come at a time in my life when I desperately needed to be reminded of Heaven’s deep gift of loving.

And woven throughout was the love of a Nana who rejoiced to share her favorite hymn with those she loved:   

BLESSED ASSURANCE by Fanny Crosby

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior, am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long”

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 4: Garments of Praise

Welcome to Day 4 of Chapter 2 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a story about the threads of redemption woven by God in our friendships.

The fabrics lie folded and stacked in my closet, next to the threads and the needles, and the unfinished projects. A lifetime of sewing is huddled there together, as a sort of memorial, stories interwoven through the warp and weft of my memories and the God-moments of my life. Some fabrics are rough, easily wrinkled and scratchy, while others drape and flow through my fingers like spun silk. 

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16-17

Her name was Kathy, which means “pure and flawless” and in my memory I can see my friend’s flaxen glowing hair, her fair skin. While other girls were chasing boys, and attending dances, she and I were reading books and sitting in the branches of her giant willow tree. We sang at the top of our lungs, practicing harmony, and laughing at the way the old songs differed from our generation’s rock-n-roll. 

My Mom was a homemaker, her Mom left the house early each morning for her job. But each of us were given chores to finish before we could spend our summer afternoons together. Some afternoons were filled with swimming lessons, while other days we rode our bikes up and down our small neighborhood streets till our legs ached. But always we ended with long discussions about life. She knew I loved Jesus. She didn’t argue that, but she just couldn’t live the same lifestyle I thought was so important: every Sunday in Church, both morning and evening, and weeknight girls’ club classes as well.  I wanted her to ask Jesus “to come into her heart” but she wasn’t sure what that even meant, so we shelved the topic, and instead spent our discussions on every other subject imaginable. 

Into the light colored weft, a darker thread was being woven, filling the fabric with the warp of my flesh. I chose the path of the church, and she chose a different path. I had known it would come to this, I who was so set on my church commitments that I could not miss one Sunday to join her at her family’s weekly campground adventures. Not once. I thought I was choosing the better path.  It took many years for me to see what I had missed. 

In our pulling apart, the bonds of the fabric could easily have torn. We graduated, I was married. She chose a local college, I moved 600 miles away with my new husband. We wrote letters that kept us connected, and even though we were separated by miles, a deep bond was somehow still glimpsed by both of us. On one of my trips back home, she told of how thyroid cancer had struck her, and the months had been filled with harsh treatments and struggles. But her face was glowing as she eagerly told me the glorious news of finally seeing the beauty of surrendering her life to Jesus. We cried and we laughed that night, taking photos together of my pure and flawless friend holding my toddler son.

But the drifting apart wasn’t finished yet, as my life was plunged into testing involving a move to the other side of the country, a move back again, and years of living in other people’s homes. The letters to my golden haired friend slowed to a trickle, as I was at a loss to explain the confusion I felt during those years of breaking and reshaping. By the time we finally moved back close enough to rekindle our friendship, the cancer had returned to my friend, and she slipped into eternity the same fall that we moved back to our Midwestern roots.

And just as the fabrics of home were being re-folded and measured and cut, the dark threads of the fleshly warp were being marked with the colors of regret. Almost daily I thought of the times that I had neglected the friendship of one so dear.  It took years for the roughness of that churchy fabric to be washed and softened. But when the fabric had finally worn down enough, I was filled with sorrow over the way I had chosen an ideal instead of the love of one precious heart. “Jesus, will You please tell Kathy how sorry I am for the years I neglected her?” Again and again through the years, I heard myself uttering that prayer to Him.

The fabrics lie folded and stacked in the closet, and my heart remembers each project. The abilities for the old ways are gone. My arthritic hands can no longer follow the precision necessary to measure and cut and sew. The old has gone, and yet, the new is here. I can hear Jesus whispering:

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Jesus has taken the regret and filled it with colors so vibrant they cannot even compare to the old ways of seeing. And in the changing, the regret has been woven into a new warp and weft.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1 – 3

That old warp of ugly dark shadows has now become a vivid setting to show forth new colors not seen before. “No apology is necessary any longer” He whispers to me. “I have preserved the threads of your friendship, and it’s woven together into a pure and flawless garment. You both are clothed in me now.”

I delight greatly in the Lord;

    my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,

    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 61:10

Thanks to Alexander McFeron @alexmcferon for making the profile photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/-dC8jIuwwDY