When we spent a summer in Iraq a few years ago, I noticed that the beautiful houses were surrounded by concrete walls. Our English student’s wife told me that she didn’t like her sons to play out on the street because of the kids who said bad words.
But they weren’t isolated, because in the neighboring houses behind the wall, relatives came in and out of each other’s homes, cooking together, watching each other’s children, and showing the latest finds from a shopping visit.
When our church gets together to worship and fellowship, it’s a precious experience to praise our Maker as one voice. It’s a taste of community life in American culture.
Most of the week, though, we live our lives by our own schedules, intersecting through the occasional get-together or a quick comment on social media.
In my prayer times during the week, I pray for family and friends, those sharing the message of the gospel overseas, and for God’s contentment in my own circumstances.
Sometimes, I start to feel insignificant, wondering if I really am doing what God wants me to do in His kingdom. I look at what others are doing and compare it to my own diaper changes and nursery rhymes.
And that my friend in Asia is a red one.
And that my husband is a green one.
And that the pastor in China being persecuted for his faith is a purple one.
And that God is weaving us all together in the beautiful tapestry of His rescue plan for the world.
Abraham was a thread.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were threads.
John the Baptist was a thread.
If my son chooses to follow Jesus, he will be a thread.
And maybe his children.
And maybe theirs.
The tapestry was started at the beginning of the world and won’t be finished until Jesus comes back to tie it off and hang it up on a wall in the New Earth.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were called God’s chosen people, the nation He made a covenant with and blessed so that all the nations of the world would be blessed through them.
In the prophetic books of the Bible, the prophets called Israel as a nation to turn back to God. The individuals He used were always part of His plan in fulfilling His covenant to Israel, which found its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
He was the perfect Prophet, Priest and King.
I tried to do good works for God and thought that if there were enough impressive deeds on there, I would be worthy to be used (which forced me to compare my works with others’ works).
But when I remember that God doesn’t need me but has still created me in His image and chosen me as His child, desiring for His power to flow through me (and using my unique personality as part of it), I am free.
No longer do I have to try to be loving, joyful and forgiving in my own power. I can invite Jesus to be loving, joyful, and forgiving through me.
God is also free to use me in the best way I fit among all the other people He is using to bring His salvation to the world.
Praying As Part of the Tapestry
When Jesus was on earth, He gave some guidelines for prayer. I’ve said the Lord’s Prayer in corporate settings, but it wasn’t until I meditated on the verses in my personal devotions that I realized I might not want to take out the plural wording in all my individual prayers.
Because sometimes, I need to worship Him as our Father.
I need to remember the church around the world when I ask for His kingdom to come and His will to be done.
I need to ask Him to give us daily bread, providing for not only my needs but the needs of the woman who lost her husband and the church that got burned to the ground by those who hate Christians.
I need to ask Him to forgive me for my sins and all the ways that we as the church around the world have failed, and to pray for God’s forgiveness to flow through us to others.
I need to pray that God would help us in the temptations that threaten to pull the church down, and that we would be delivered from the spiritual attacks of the evil one.
It’s a way to help remove the focus from me and put it back on God.
Then when I see God use someone to lead another in a commitment to faith, I can rejoice in how God is using us to bring more into His kingdom, instead of feeling guilty I haven’t shared enough.
I can thank God for the ministries He is using to bless those in bondage to poverty, corruption, and slavery, even if I can’t give financially to each one.
When I’ve hurt someone and feel like I shouldn’t be free to accept God’s grace and forgiveness again, I can remember all the times He gave it in the Bible and in the lives of those around me.
When I feel I can’t overcome a temptation any more, I can remember that all Christians must battle the powers of darkness and struggle with sin until it is annihilated in the end.
I used to think praying for people was like casting a fishing line in different directions.
Cast. Pray for this person. Reel in. Cast again.
As we pray, encourage, and support one another, God chooses to work through the criss-crossing lines of everyone’s prayers to fulfill the beautiful work of bringing people closer to Jesus.
When we look at the tapestry of God’s plan, it won’t all look the same.
Some tapestry threads might get more recognition on earth than others.
Some threads might be barely noticed.
But God desires each one to be surrendered to how He wants to weave us into his masterpiece.
I don’t have to worry that I’m not being awesome enough. I can instead delight in the fact that I’m His precious thread, a thread He was willing to give His life for.
Will you join us in asking how God wants to use your thread?
What is one area outside your influence where you rejoice to see members of the Body of Christ at work?