I remember as a child so enjoying making paper placemats. Usually, the teacher would instruct on how to cut the template for the placemat. We’d take a piece of construction paper and then cut vertical slits, careful not to cut through to the edge. Then, we’d cut long strips of paper in various colors to weave in and out horizontally. Over, under, over, under, over, under, a beautiful pattern would emerge right before out eyes, and after a period of time, each piece would be in place and we’d have a beautiful placemat to share with our families.
I thought about that pattern as I saw the beauty of this palm tree at the beach the other day. The tall grasses were blowing gently in the wind, the waves were rolling in, the palm leaves were blowing turbulently with the strong wind, and…the trunk of the palm tree stood as steady as a rock. I looked at the trunk and marveled at the beauty of the pattern, over, under, over, under. And I smiled.
You see, it reminded me of something I needed to be reminded of…that God’s design is perfect. It is intricate. It is beautiful. It is unique. Oh, so unique. God knows what He’s doing. The pattern of the palm tree was beautiful, but had a purpose. Although I will never really have a total comprehensive understanding of all of the whys of the design, I can trust the Designer with the intricate details and reasons for them. I can also appreciate the beauty of the artistry of the pattern, in the same way that oh, so many years ago, I appreciated the pattern of the beautiful little placemats created by my own hands.
So here’s the thing. I think God has a beautiful template for my life, much like the piece of construction paper with the vertical slits. There’s a plan. There’s a purpose. There’s a pattern. There are gifts, and abilities, and a myriad of “givens” that were who I was before I even knew I was alive. All these things help form the backdrop, the template, the background of a life, again, much like the construction paper with the vertical slits.
Then, there are the variables. These are the choices, opportunities taken and lost, effort given or not, words spoken or not, and the list goes on with each step forward or back. These are like the strips that are cut and woven in and out. Some may cut their strips uniformly and thin, weaving them in and out meticulously. Others may cut them with wavy patterns, and the strips may be varying in width. Some of us may weave methodically over, under, over, under, making wise choices along the way, day after day, year after year. Others, much like me then, and me now, might rush things a bit and go over, under, over, under, over, over, under, over, under, “oops I skipped a slit”, go back and pull the strip out and start again,….over under, over, under…. Some of us may see beautiful patterns emerge. Others of us may be so up close and focused on the tiny little strip that we don’t see the beautiful pattern emerging.
Anyway, all this from looking at a palm tree? Yep. All this from looking at a palm tree and being reminded that He creates good things and there is beauty all around to remind me of that. The heavens declare the glory of God. So do ocean waves. So do palm trees. And it is my hope and prayer that , well, so do I. Even when my little placemat of a life may have lots of not-so-uniform perfectly cut little strips, I’m praying that His beauty shines through that template that He made, and that His grace shines through the strips that I weave, day after day, year after year. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to remember that there’s a bigger picture, and that even though I might not be able to see the design at times, I can so trust that my little efforts each day are woven into a much bigger picture, tapestry, or …placemat, if you will! Here’s to thanking God for the templates we are given, and being faithful in our efforts to “weave” lives that honor Him.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”