I kept it tucked away for years.
It was a gift from my mother; a burlap table runner with ruffled ends. I had pinned a photograph of a similar one on Pinterest a long time ago, and she happened to come across this one while she was out shopping one day. She bought it and gave it to me as a random, no-particular-reason surprise. She was always doing things like that.
One day I saw it peeking out from its hiding place under a stack of placemats, so I pulled it out. It was still as beautiful as I’d remembered. And still not the right size for any of the tables in my house. I tried placing it everywhere I could think to put it, hoping it’d work. But just like the last time I tried, it simply wasn’t the right fit.
My mom had been gone around 18 months by then. Getting rid of the table runner felt like letting a piece of her go. It was too sad. I couldn’t do it. And yet, putting it away to remain unused forever was even sadder still.
I stared at it for a long time. I stared for so long that the table runner began to take on a different shape. Something else was emerging. Something new.
I took it down to my sewing room, found my scissors, and began to cut. The metallic sound of the scissors made me cringe. Because once something is cut, it’s cut. There’s no going back, no un-cutting. I was left with three pieces of fabric; two long rectangles from each end – these would turn into pillows (I hoped), and a shorter rectangle of leftover fabric.
I’ll be honest, things didn’t look so hot for the table runner in this moment. What used to be something beautiful and perfectly good was now cut up into pieces. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this table runner had been ruined. You’d think its story was over.
Have you ever felt like that? I know I have.
There have been times when life hasn’t looked like I thought it would. Times when it’s seemed like everything I once considered perfectly good was all cut up into pieces. Times when I couldn’t see how the pieces could ever be put back together again.
Because it’s true, there is no un-cutting. There really is no way to go back in time and restore things to how they used to be.
But here’s the thing:
There is, for sure, a way to turn those cut-up pieces of what was into something new. That’s the business God is in, making something new out of the pieces, no matter how hopeless the project seems.
We often don’t see the newness coming. Perhaps because we’re still clinging so tightly to the way things used to be. We long for the time before the scissors came and cut everything to pieces. Or perhaps we don’t sense newness on the horizon because we don’t believe that God is there, that He’s good, or that He’s able.
There are all kinds of reasons we fail to see newness, but the Creator of the Universe doesn’t depend on us to see what He’s doing. He can make something new whether or not we perceive it as it’s happening.
Know what is needed in order to make the old new? Something to hold the pieces together.
This is true in sewing. You can’t sew without thread. You could try, I guess, but in the end you’d just be left with a bunch of needle holes. Nothing would hold together.
The Bible describes Jesus in this way: “…in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17 ESV)
How I treasure this verse. Those cut-up pieces of table runner could never have put themselves back together. They were nothing but a bunch of hopeless scraps, forever damaged by their encounter with the scissors.
But then came the thread. Stitch by stitch, the thread transformed those ripped-up pieces into something new. I watched as the pieces became a pair of beautiful pillows. Here’s one of them:
These new pillows have a totally different purpose than the old table runner. They have a totally different look. They are something altogether changed, altogether new, and altogether better.
The table runner wasn’t conquered when the scissors cut through it. Not one little bit. But it was redeemed when the thread ran through it.
The Lord can take the torn up pieces of your life and redeem them into something new. He’ll do it using Jesus as the thread.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)