A green bean for His glory

A green bean for His glory

I used to sit in my grandma’s living room and just watch her knit. I know, I know. That sounds frightfully boring. But I truly loved it. I hardly understood why, but the quiet click-click of her needles, the resonant tick-tick of the grandfather clock, the soft sounds of neighbors and traffic of the city outside on 7 Donnelly St in Kitchener, Ontario — all of it just made me feel safe. Secure. Loved.

Several times, she gave me a leftover ball of yarn and a pair of needles that were shorter and easier for my little fingers and taught me how to loop each loop until I had a lumpy, uneven row. Somehow, her rows were always straight and lovely. Then she would teach me to turn it around and start again to make the next row. She generously called my creations “Barbie rugs.” Later, we kindly called them “pot holders.” I never grew to love knitting, but how I grew to love her.  Organically and swiftly it leapt into being as she clicked through the piece she was working on. I was amazed, especially after I tried my hand at it and puzzled at it while I sat at her slipper-shod feet trying to recreate it myself.

“For you formed my inward parts;

   you knitted me together in my mother's womb” (Psalm 139:13).

When I read that verse, I think of my grandma’s living room and the click-by-patient-click that would slowly form something that before had not been. Beyond the nostalgia of a 1980s living room, I think of the privacy of her world where she loved to create. Whether it was with yarn or fabric or seeds and trellis in her garden, my grandma was an artist. All her art created very useful things — socks and slippers and rugs and green beans. But they were all lovely. Nourishing. Filling or warming. What she made blessed those around her.

And you know what?

What God made, He made to bless those around Him. If you pause to think about that, it's really staggering. Each of your children (even the one you may or may not admit is pretty annoying at the moment) are made specifically for the world they will be in. Now and when they are grown. Every brother and sister in Christ that you come across and worship next to on Sunday morning. Every person you meet on the street, every person you interact with online. They are the handiwork of their Creator.

And finally, you. And if you’re anything like me, and I know you are, you shy away from that knowledge. “Too chatty/ugly/fat/old/broken/worried/antisocial.” I tell myself, and I’m sure you have too. “Too _____ to be of use.” (You fill in the blank.) But He obviously doesn’t think so. And He's the one making/knitting/growing you.

“But sin!” I protest — doesn’t sin limit or even destroy what God has made good? Yes. For now. “But all things [still] work together for good for those that love Him” (Romans 8:28). All things. Meaning, He knew my “shortcomings,” some of which aren’t shortcomings at all. But He also knew my failure and sin. Struggles with the flesh, the world, and the devil that come out at the worst times. And still, He placed me here. In this marriage, family, neighborhood, city, and church. To be a sock, or painting, or rug, or for goodness’ sakes, a green bean for His glory. We don't get to pick. We just get to be.

Paul talks about our specific roles and gifting as a placement in the body of Christ Himself in 1 Corinthians 12. We all have different gifts, but the same Lord. Lord — that means He decides how useful I am, not me. Phew.

A hand, a foot, a heart, a mouth. Each of us is something. Even me.

So I can look around at my brothers and sisters in Christ and see them for the unique, loved, and needed creations that they are. Can I also look at myself and know I am also unique, known, planned, knit, and treasured by Him?

I used to read the verse “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) as “Love your neighbor instead of yourself.” Thankfully, it is as. He assumes that a gentle, respectful level of care goes into the love of myself. So if I really love my neighbor exactly as myself — would they feel seen, heard, and encouraged? I hope so.

There are lots of parts, but one body, and nourishing one part nourishes the whole. Filling. Warming. Inspiring. Comforting. He made me to bless those around me.

And maybe you need that reminder today too. That He made you — everything about you — to bless those around you and bring honor to His name. Even the stuff you don’t really like. So please, handle yourself with care and swell with worship that He knew you, knit you, before you were born.

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