It started with a trip to the store to buy six kitchen chair cushions – and a trip from the store without any kitchen chair cushions. “I refuse to pay $15.99 apiece for cushions I like, let alone ones I don’t,” I told the Preacher later.
Back home, I dug out some leftover upholstery material and an unused memory foam mattress topper stored in the basement. I’d kept both for years, sure I’d use them – one day. Then from the depths of the hall closet I mined the third part of the equation: my almost-antique Elna sewing machine, buried under kids' puzzles and a toy doctor’s kit. Solid steel and obedient as a steed, last time I used it.
Old Iron Horse needed cleaning and oiling, but after that, it galloped smoothly around the cushion fabric; straight to the finish line each time. A day and a half later, I didn’t have a weekly column written, but my family sat on new chair cushions and a matching runner sat on our table. Placemats, already cut, wait for another weekend.
When our marriage was young, and the children too, I sewed plenty. Raised by two creative parents, I learned early in life that few things are as rewarding as using your own hands to bring form and substance from something lacking in both. I took the same pleasure in a finished sewing project as I have done for years in a finished article or book.
Something unexpected happened during the stitching of those cushions. Amidst the hum of my machine and the crunch of scissors biting through fabric; between enjoying the feel of fabric slipping through my fingers and the sight of each completed cushion, I remembered how I once loved sewing. How its monotony hollowed out a sacred space for thought. Stilled me.
I can't say when it happened. But somewhere along the writing path I’ve followed with such passion for so long, I have subconsciously bought into a falsity: that creating a beautiful pile of words is worth more in God’s eyes than any other activity I (or my neighbor) could do with a pure heart and honest intent. I am wrong, and I needed the Iron Horse to remind me.
We revere the arts, both in society and our churches. We call God the Consummate Artist and vault musicians, artists, writers, worship leaders and their works to unattainable heights of favour. We are wrong there too. God is indeed a Consummate Artist, but scripture reveals him as Consummate
Everything. Surely then, all we do with a spirit consistent and true to the Son of God in us, is equally valuable in his eyes.
What are you up to, fellow Christ-follower? Plumbing, teaching, building, crafting, cooking, serving? Whatever God leads you to, do it for his glory. And never forget: his smile rests on you.
I will spend this weekend too, in stitches.