Her Story: A Thread Of Grace

…God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity, he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:23-24 (MSG)

Have you ever tried to sew fabric to elastic? If the circumference of the elastic is smaller than the circumference of the material, you need to sew a “gathering stitch” on the fabric.

It’s a loose stitch. It’s not fancy, but without it, you could never pull the fabric together. And pulling it together is a requirement if you want to attach it to the elastic. It’s a necessary step if the material is going to meet its full potential, creative or otherwise.

I’ve got one of those in my story—a “gathering stitch.” It’s been woven loosely throughout my life for decades. It’s a verse from the book of Joshua.

“Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9, KJV).

I hope you’ll pardon the Old English, but I claimed it as a “life verse” when I was sixteen years old and studying for confirmation in my Lutheran Church. I chose it because having God around during my “whithersoever thou goest” sounded appealing. I didn’t know at the time how much I would need the power-packed truths in the rest of the verse.

This stitch has carried me and at times even convinced me that I am:

Strong

Courageous

Fearless

Content

But as with any good story, there’s tension.

Protagonists, antagonists, battles lost, victories won. Fifty plus years of living has garnered me many stories. Ones that have pulled and threatened to sever my gathering stitch.

  • Strong? I didn’t feel strong when the baby girl we waited seven years for was whisked away in a helicopter hours after her birth.
  • Courageous? Shaking hands and knocking knees as I answered the call to speak are a testament to my lack of it.
  • Fearless? Sleepless nights and the worry that only a mother can bear disqualify me from this title.
  • Content? I wish I could say that discouragement has never bested me, but my husband was right when he once observed, “Sweetheart, you struggle with discontent.”

It’s difficult to admit that the very things God wants for me are the issues I grapple with. But it’s an even harder admission to acknowledge the reason why.

PRIDE.

Right next to my gathering stitch is my true nemesis, and it is me.

What can I do? How should I behave? What choice should I make?

I love this quote from the classic, The Ragamuffin Gospel:

“Though the Scriptures insist on God’s initiative in the work of salvation—that by grace we are saved, that the Tremendous Lover has taken to the chase—our spirituality often starts with self, not God. Personal responsibility has replaced personal response.” He continues, “The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing.”- Brennan Manning

The thread of self-effort has run parallel to my gathering stitch for as long as I can remember. This particular thread reminds me of the wild turkeys that trespass across my yard. They are ugly, not to mention they poop on my doorstep. The real trick is that I recognize how unwanted the turkeys are.

Unfortunately, self-effort puts on lipstick and convinces me she's pretty. I fall prey to her disguise and welcome her. Click To Tweet

Again, Manning says it best,

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe, and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love, and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.”

My life verse is what I want to be. Some days it’s what I am. But even when I am none of those things, my story has been and always will be about the most excellent thread of all:

The thread of grace.

I am a sinner who has seen love in Jesus’ eyes. I’m a woman who continually receives God’s forgiveness and experiences the beauty and weightlessness of the fresh starts He offers over and over (and over) again.

God’s grace. The depth of which I’m confident I’ll still be learning about until the moment I inhale earth and exhale heaven. I’m forever grateful for a God that is a patient teacher, especially with a slow learner such as myself!

That’s my story… and I’m stickin’ to it!

Reflection Questions

1. Do you ever catch yourself trying to “power through” your Christianity? If so, what does that look like?

2. If you could pick one area in your life that you sense self-effort is not getting you where you want to be, what is it? (An area I struggle with is my temper.)

3. Take that area of your life and try this “postured prayer.” Cup your hands in your lap and with eyes closed talk to God about it. Admit to Him whatever it is you are struggling with. He can handle it! Now, lift your cupped hands to your chest and invite Him into the situation. Release all your trying and self-effort. Finally, raise your hands high and praise Him! Thank Him that He can be trusted to do the work in you. (I often “push repeat” on this process in whatever area I’m wrestling with. I’m a work in progress but it truly helps to pause and direct my focus, not on me or my situation, but on Him and His unconditional love for me.)

 

Prayer

Father God, we thank You that we can be completely transparent with You. You understand how hard it is to rely on You wholeheartedly. From the time we were small and took our first steps, we’ve been applauded for pulling ourselves up. But that is not Your expectation of us. You call us to complete and utter dependence. You remind us that You are responsible for our growth, our changes, and our journey toward holiness. When we forget, please whisper this truth to us. Remind us that You are here, that You are faithful and that Christ has already done the work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

6 thoughts on “Her Story: A Thread Of Grace

Jodie

Cin- your story blesses me this morning, reminding me of God’s grace, love, and patience. I’ve been asked to give a brief message to a group of teen girls. The assignment- write a letter to your younger self. I’ve been pondering this and keep landing on contentment. Paul said he “learned the secret.” I would encourage my younger self to learn contentment earlier. “In plenty and in want,” God’s grace and mercy abound, never changing like my circumstances.
Thank you for leading the way with your story today.

Reply

Cindy K Krall

Friend, I’ll be praying about your talk! There are so many things we could say to our “younger selves”. I only know that the older I get the more visible His thread of grace becomes. I’m so very grateful!

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Cindy Wilkins

From one slow learner to another, what a great encouragement your words are! Yes! I am such a paradox and I don’t want to be. I want to be all those things your “gathering stitch” speaks of, but alas, still a work in progress (as we’re most of my sewing projects by the way) I will pray this prayer again. Thanks you for sharing your wisdom and heart!

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    Cindy K Krall

    Cindy (Have I ever mentioned how much I love your first name? Ha!), life is SUCH a journey isn’t it? We grow by God’s grace only. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself of is that what matters most is how God sees me and whatever situation I’m facing as opposed to how I see it. The miracle is that He sees us through eyes of love and incomprehensible wisdom and power. He hears us, He holds us and He helps us. What an amazing God He is!

    Reply

Angie Hayes

What a beautiful testimony, sweet Cindy. Your transparency and His grace reveal a beautifully tapestry. Theology can be disputed and even questioned by the wisest of theologians but relationship with Jesus can never be taken. Here, in your testimony I read, He is unshakably known as enough. So beautiful, Sister.

Reply

    Cindy K Krall

    He is isn’t He Angie? And who are we that He should reveal Himeslef to us? There is nothing left to do but be grateful for the gift and then share it! Love you friend.

    Reply

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