I only have one section of a cross-stitch project left to do that I started about 15 years ago, a 2-inch square window. The design is a country scene: a black iron pot-belly stove with a blue coffee pot, a wooden chair with a gray cat sleeping in it, braided rug, and basket of apples, with a pretty curtained window behind. The backside is a faded image of the pattern. The details can’t be seen, such as the face of the gray cat.
This present life is like the backside of the cross-stitch picture–only a faded image of what the real life is like. The life we are living today is “cross-stitching” our eternal home. Every day you live makes another stitch in the pattern of your life.
Bright yellow is stitched by the happy occasions of your life. The blues are from the tranquil days. The golds and silvers are not how much money you have, but from the treasures of family and good friends. The browns and blacks from the hard days of life—financial set-backs, marital problems, family misunderstandings, health problems.
Red stitches are true love, pink and blue for the precious children of your life. Oranges for the beautiful sunsets, white for the snowfalls, gray for your senior years.
This present life is not the real life. It is a temporary training session, a preparation place for the life to come. Paul reminded us that the things we see are not the eternal things, because they are temporary and will pass away some day.
“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18
This life on earth is temporary, passing away, day by day. Some day you will cross over to your permanent eternal home, where the brilliant colors of a life well lived will be revealed.
When I was young, we always went to church on New Year’s Eve for a “Watch Night” service, to pray out the old year and pray in the New Year. We sang gospel songs, the preacher taught us from the Bible, and exhorted us about living a sinless life.
Then we females gathered on one side of the church and the men and boys on the other and held a “foot-washing service.” We poured warm water in a white enamel dishpan, and washed each other’s feet. One person started at the end and washed the feet of the lady next to her. Then that lady knelt and washed the next person’s feet.
If you’ve never taken part in a “foot-washing” service, there is something very humbling in washing the feet of another person. I can remember as a young girl, thinking how old and crippled-looking were the feet of the older ladies. As I washed the feet of one of the little granny ladies, I realized how much I loved her and all the little granny ladies in the church.
As I washed the lady’s feet, I thought of the Last Supper when Jesus took a towel, wrapped it around his waist, and washed the feet of his disciples.
“So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:12-14 New King James Version.
Then it was my turn to have my feet washed. The person who was washing my feet was doing something for me that I felt I could and should be doing for myself. I felt unworthy to be having that done for me. I felt as though I should be washing everyone else’s feet.
The foot-washing service wasn’t really about cleaning our feet, but about humbling our hearts. It’s all in the attitude of the heart.
When we were kids, we always got our Christmas tree the last day of school before Christmas. We put the tree up on Christmas Eve and left it up until New Year’s Day.
After I had my own home, I couldn’t get in the mood to decorate until Christmas Eve and I usually left my tree up until long after New Year’s Day. One year I even thought about turning my tree into a Valentine tree, a St Patrick’s tree, and an Easter tree, maybe even a 4th of July tree.
It doesn’t seem like Christmas without a tree, decorated with cute little ornaments my children made when they were small, and little ornaments we had when I was a child. There aren’t many of those left now, but I love them.
Of course I love a real cedar Christmas tree. I used to buy a real tree from the fire station every year. I love the smell of a Christmas tree, but an artificial tree is so much easier.
Within the Christmas story is the story of the real Christmas tree, the cross. God became flesh, born of the virgin Mary as the Holy Son of God, Jesus Christ. That’s the beginning of the story that continues with Jesus Christ on the tree, the cross of Calvary, giving Himself completely for the whole world. He died and was buried, but then rose again from the dead as our Savior, seated at the right hand of God, crowned as the King of kings.
“Because Christ also suffered for us,…. who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” I Peter 2:21-24 New King James Version.
From the words of the old hymn, The Old Rugged Cross, written by George Bennard, (1873-1958.) “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.”
From the cross, a true Christmas tree, to a crown.
I was not glad when I got out of bed this morning. Some things have occurred this week that put me in a bad mood.
Since a recent store remodel, I have to walk all over looking for items on my list, and even then I might not find what I am looking for. I’ve never really liked shopping, but this has made me grumpy.
I had bronchitis last week and spent several days lying around before finally going to the doctor, where he gave me the standard treatment and I recovered. I didn’t ever feel sick, but had that crazy cough that won’t go away, especially at night, so I wasn’t sleeping well.
I made a mistake on the date on the invitation to our club’s Christmas party and spend hours on the phone trying to contact the ones I thought would come. Of course it all turned out fine, but I felt like a silly goose for making that mistake.
The dog decided this week to stay outside when I called and called him, even though the temperatures were down below 40, colder than he is used to. One time I even had to slip on a coat and shoes to go make him come inside, since he wouldn’t come when I called.
Then Sunday morning came. When I walked in the doors of the church, I made up my mind to praise the Lord. I brought out an old praise chorus from the 1980s that kept coming to my mind, and played it for us to sing, to focus our minds on Jesus.
“I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart. I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice for He has made me glad.” (Taken from Psalms 100:4 King James Version.)
Circumstances are subject to change, but if they don’t, we can choose to keep the joy of the Lord in my heart and in my mouth in spite of the circumstances.
Nothing changed but my attitude. I choose to praise the Lord.