Going on two years now, I have been knitting a Christmas stocking for my grandson, Henry. It truly is a labor of the deepest, giving-of-myself kind of love, for in doing this, I have made a painful discovery; knitting is not my forte. My hour of delving into this craft—I have been told that is all you should attempt at one sitting— goes something like this. Knit five. Tink twenty. Tink, which is knit spelled backwards, means to unknit or undo what you have just done. My knitting is more like a boat rocking back and forth caught in a sludge that allows very little headway. Instead of moving forward, it feels as if I’m in the Twilight Zone of the land of no progress.
It can be so disheartening. My dear, sweet friend, Joan, who is teaching me this fine art, has become my cheerleader. I don’t know quite why she puts up with me except that I must provide endearing comic relief. Encouraging my efforts, she often genuinely tells me, “You’ve got this now. You know what you’re doing. Look at you go.” And she’s right. For a minute. Until I walk out of her house and all by my lonesome stumble into my next mistake that I have no idea how to fix. Not even an inkling at all.
My real problem is not that knitting is so difficult, but that I have too many irons in the fire. It’s not that I don’t have the brainpower to succeed at this endeavor—which can be intricate and exacting, often resulting in beautiful sweaters, afghans, and yes, even Christmas stockings—it’s that there are too many commitments in other areas of life and far too many distractions. Like a kid in a candy store, there are so many fun, wonderful, and interesting things to try, to do, and to see. If I had a bucket list, it would be full to overflowing.
So what it comes down to is picking and choosing, deciding and making….
Pushing away those that so easily entangle and distract, while welcoming the ones our hearts are passionately committed to.
As many of you know, Jerry and I are working toward turning our home into a retreat and event venue. For two weeks before our first happening, we worked tirelessly. Waking before the rooster greeted the morning, stopping just in time to hear the coyote howl usher in the night, we put everything we had into making this place sparkle. And while that’s not a bad thing, Jerry and I let it get out of hand letting the shine on the apple take precedence over other areas of our lives. We poured every ounce of energy, fortitude, and strength into getting ready for the opening of P’Niel, our venue. We lost the ability to balance what needed to be done with what we wanted to see happen.
Everyday, I try to write for three hours in the morning. All last week, though, I didn’t stop for anything. Not one word or thought made it’s way to paper and as the days passed, what came to the forefront was the aching knowledge I had been sidelined by my pride. Work hard, yes. But not at the expense of other things, the other areas in life that matter.
So what’s a body to do?
Pray about everything.
Ask the Lord to order our days, to prioritize what needs to be done versus what can be let go of. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV, the Lord tells us to pray without ceasing. And in Philippians 4:6 NLT to not “worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” In Matthew 6:33 ESV, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” That includes even whipping our home, a soon to be venue, into looking brand-spanking new.
Secondly, don’t let guilt be your guide.
When we do get off track, and we will, because at best, we are human, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:1 ESV, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” We all stumble, getting distracted along the way, and if guilt is our director, taking the next wrong turn is almost a certainty. But when we do mess up, if we let the Holy Spirit lead, instruct, and guide our lives, it’s not the end of the world. He can bring goodness even from our mistakes.
Finally, look at Psalm 16.
I used to read this Psalm, always bolstered and encouraged until I reached the tenth verse. Landing there, every time I would think, “Oh, this one is not meant personally for me. It is meant for Jesus. It is God talking directly to His Son, telling Him that He (God) would not let His Holy One (Jesus) see corruption. Out of respect, in my head, I always looked away.” That was until one day, God impressed on me that because Jesus lives in my heart this Psalm was meant for me also. Because of Jesus, I won’t see corruption. Because of Jesus, even in my humanity when I fail, He will restore, strengthen, encourage, and establish me. (See 1 Peter 5:10.)
Psalm 16: 5-10 NLT
“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!
I will bless the Lord who guides me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
Or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
Granting me the joy of your presence
And the pleasures of living with you forever.”
Joining my knitting friend in sweet encouragement, while praying for us all,