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God can knit with our tangled lives

Jane Walters reminds us that God is able to unravel and create beauty from the tangle of our messy lives.

Mr Messy, one of the Mr Men characters created by Roger Hargreaves, is not the most likely candidate for a Significant Literary Figure award, but he’s been on my mind recently as I’ve been preparing for an upcoming writing retreat. I’m basing the retreat on the well-known story of Joseph, tracking the development of his character as he transitions from spoilt lad to prisoner to governor of Egypt.
Even if our lives don’t pan out so dramatically as his, we can’t escape the fact that life can be very messy indeed. We manage to get ourselves into all sorts of knots and tangles. Mistakes we make, decisions that seem different in hindsight, relationships that ebb and flow with varying degrees of pain and joy. All of these, and so much more, can at the very least complicate who and what we are.
As I was ruminating on this, I was trying to calculate – in a very flippant sort of way – how long Mr Messy would be if he were untangled, straightened out, laid from end to end. It was impossible to get a definitive answer. I mean, how long is a piece of string?
But, by far the bigger issue, for me, was that of course without his tangles, Mr Messy would not be Mr Messy. And without our mess, we would not be ourselves as we know it. Surely it is the difficulties we face and try to overcome that help shape our own character, as well as those we create? It is how we react to disappointment and failure that prepares us for a greater life to come. It is working with God in our suffering that brings meaning and purpose to it all.
Some of our mess can get unravelled, of course. We don’t have to languish in all of it. So, what can happen to those parts of our lives that do get straightened out? Although I’ve not done any for a little while, I love knitting and it’s a brilliant metaphor for what God can do with our untangled strands. You see, He doesn’t leave us as loose threads any more than He leaves us knotted. Rather, He takes the opportunity to weave those loosened, freed up threads into new patterns and shapes. The very material that looks so unusable proves to be capable of beauty in the right hands.
Take courage, my friends! God never leaves us as He finds us! Splendour awaits if we don’t resist His tender loving tugging!

Jane Walters 175Jane Walters, formerly Clamp, is the author of Too Soon, a mother’s journey through miscarriage (SPCK) and a regular contributor to Premier Radio and UCB. She is also vice-chair of the Association of Christian Writers. Jane leads creative writing retreats and is a popular speaker locally and further afield. Visit: janewyattwalters.com

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