My longtime friend and her husband came for lunch one day, visiting from out of state. Anne bounded in the door, effusing hugs and giggles with her signature enthusiasm. We hadn’t seen each other in person for several years, but as friends and sisters in Christ, we shared a history that spanned a few milestone-filled decades.
Anne handed me a small gift bag made of colorful fabric and ribbon-tied with flair. At her request, I emptied the contents onto the kitchen counter. Most of the items were practical, yet thoughtful goodies, including a devotional and carefully printed Scripture verse. My eyes fell to a curious piece of knitting, a small rectangle of dark green yarn. Explaining how she was just learning to knit, Anne proudly held up her first project, a dishcloth, she announced. As she dangled the stitching between us, two irregular and sizable holes became evident–not a lacy design for effect. As a knitter, I recognized these holes as mistakes, places where stitches had been missed or dropped from her needles.
“I don’t know how those holes got in there!” she announced with apparent surprise. I joined Anne’s infectious laughter and thanked her for her thoughtfulness in sharing her first efforts. We went proceeded to the dining room with our husbands for food and fellowship.
All too soon, it was time to part. After final goodbyes and our friends drove away, I reached for the small swatch of knitting once again. I felt a tenderness of emotion as I stood holding this small patch of yarn. I wondered why. It was only a dishcloth. A flurry of insight washed over me as quickly as I had questioned my feelings. Then I understood. This simple gift represented so much more than my eyes could see.
Anne had entrusted me with her handiwork–despite its flaws. Would I have taken that risk, or would my pride have overruled? The Bible tells us, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, Colossians 3:12,” (NLT). I had witnessed my friend’s spiritual fruit in action.
Tears bubbled up as I reflected on how Anne had trusted me … trusted me with her flaws, her imperfection. She didn’t ask for my approval of her knitting accomplishments. No, this small green square of knitted stitches was a reminder of our long-held friendship, a journey not without its own trials and breaches of understanding. Just as Laban declared in Genesis 31:48: “This pile of stones will stand as a witness of the covenant we have made today,” (NLT). I knew the dishcloth stood as a witness of our covenant relationship. Though it was not perfect, as neither of us were, we were bound together in Christ’s love and forgiveness.
The Lord continued to layer His truths onto my heart. What joy that we can come before the Heavenly Throne as imperfect products, flawed by sin, while our Heavenly Father sees us through the filter of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes,” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT). When we ask for forgiveness, despite our “holes,” our sins, Father God cherishes us as His children. Indescribable grace and mercy! “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins,” Ephesians 1:7 (NLT).
It became clear that this little dishcloth was much more than it would appear. It represented the way God has shown us to live in relationship with one another in the Body of Christ–the humility, trust, and love. It also shouted grace, mercy, and forgiveness, highlighting the loving Covenant with Father God. I knew then that this washcloth would not be used for washing dishes, but for teaching me how to live. Who would have imagined so much truth could be woven into a simple hand knitted washcloth?
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes,” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT).
Joan C. Benson