I walked into my dad's camper and was intrigued by the aging quilt that laid across his bed. I recognized the handy-work--my kids have been cuddled up with Mamaw's makings for years. My children have never met their great-grandma but they've heard many stories about her. She left a profound impact on my life and my perspective on life in general. She was a woman who wasn't impressed by spotless kitchens--who were they serving if clean and empty? She was a woman who didn't obsess about a little dirt on her floor--clean floors don't tell the story of who's coming and going, or the work the family was able to do outside. But you would be hard pressed to find dust on her Bible during her latter years--that book was moved, used, read, and internalized.
The quilt instantly reminded me of my heritage--I come from a long line of hard-working women. However, this blanket looked different than others she had made. My dad told me that Mamaw sewed it from her husband's overalls after his clothes had seen their better days.
Typical. The woman wasted nothing. She also wrote a poem about the clothes that were used to feed my father and gave it to my dad along with the quilt. The covering smelled like the woods--my dad would spend days hunting and roughing it and then lay down to rest at night under grandma's gift. Something in me didn't like seeing the quilt laying there dirty, stained and torn. I wanted to preserve it--clean it and hang it somewhere so I could remember her. For a moment, I wanted to display it, so that it could be seen, to keep memories alive of the woman I miss so much.
My grandma would roll over in her grave if she knew that thought. The quilt-- stained, torn, imperfect as it may be, is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Its destruction is what makes it beneficial. And she would help me understand that her quilts were made as illustrations of the way God intends for us to live: "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it." --Luke 17:33
God says that if you want your life to last (particularly beyond the years you have left on earth), you have to "lose" it. The Scripture literally means "let it be destroyed". We have to suffer (whether big or small ways) in order to store up treasures in heaven. We have to turn away from disregarding the things of God in order to enjoy the things God made. We have to resist our own ways of understanding in order to have the rest God intended. We give of ourselves in order to gain the relationships God designed for us. We resign our control in order to retain self-control. We have to be USED in order to be USEFUL.
Our lives shouldn't necessarily be pretty, preserved, or framed so the world can see how wonderful we are. When a life is well-lived, it looks like my grandma's quilt that covers the chills of those she loved. It's messy, perpetual, and layed down for others so that they can know how awesome God is.