Devotion for the Week...
I have been quilting for almost 20 years. Most of that time I've been quilting by myself, with maybe one acquaintance who also quilted. Other times I've known a couple of people who wanted to learn, so I taught them and we sewed together for a while. Then I started my blog and suddenly I had an abundance of sewing friends all over the world. They were sharing amazing pictures of the things they were working on, which made me want to try new techniques, new colour combinations, new patterns and new fabrics. I was already passionate about quilting, but the more exposure I had to what other quilters were doing, the more my love of quilting grew.
It has been great to expand to Instagram and join in with events like the Friday Night Sew Along, or Saturday Night Craft a Long, or the 30 Day Quilt Design Challenge. It's so wonderful to be working on something at the same time other people are working on their own projects, even if we're only sharing our progress as pictures on our phones. The connection is still there as we comment on each other's work and cheer each other on.
When I read Romans 1 a few weeks ago, I was struck by this, "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that
is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith"
(Romans 1:11,12). Paul was writing to the Christians in Rome, telling
them that he hoped to soon be able to come visit them, in part so he
could teach them something that would make their faith stronger, but
also so they could mutually encourage each other.
Just like quilters! I wonder how often anyone has ever said the apostle Paul is just like a quilter? But it's true. Just as I love sewing with friends (online or in person), Paul liked to spend time with other Christians because he found the time together to be encouraging to his faith.
You may wonder how this is true, since Paul was the teacher and founder of churches. He already had such a firm grasp on faith and the importance of the gospel. How could the average person encourage him and increase his faith?
Well, a couple of times recently
I have heard or read of quilting teachers saying that they love
teaching workshops to guilds or other groups because there's so much
love for quilting in those sessions. They said they love the energy of
the quilters sharing their love for this craft. They love how the
(mostly) women share their favourite colour combinations, or share
little tips and tricks that make the work faster or easier. Even though
they are the teachers for that session, their own love of quilting is
built up because of the time spent with other quilters.
Those teachers know so much about quilting, and in some cases they know much more than the people they're teaching. But it's not always a matter of who has the most knowledge or experience. Enthusiasm is contagious, so the more enthusiastic a quilter is, the more enthusiastic others around them can become. And you don't have to be an experienced quilter to be combining colours in new and interesting ways, so your eye for colour can awaken a more experienced quilter to a combination they've never considered before.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. Enthusiasm is contagious, and sometimes it's the older, more experienced Christians who need to spend time with newer Christians to catch sight of that enthusiasm again.
We all see the world differently too, which means that we all see our faith differently. Most people probably don't associate their faith with quilting, but my mind often puts the two together. I also see a lot of connections between the bible and looking after small children, probably because I've spent the past 14 years in the company of toddlers and preschoolers. You likely make other connections when you read certain passages of Scripture, based on your interests and experiences.
That's why being around other Christians is so important. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24,25).
Of course, sometimes 'meeting together' happens in person and sometimes it happens online or through books. There are several devotions I enjoy reading, including (in)courage and Our Daily Bread. I also enjoy books by Charles Swindoll, Mark Buchanan, Ravi Zacharias, Philip Yancey and many others. All of them have experienced life differently than I have and so they have different insights to share.
And if you feel you don't have much to offer to encourage others? I don't think that's the case at all! I know that several of you have encouraged me through your comments left here on these devotions, sharing your own stories about how faith has helped you through tough times. We can encourage each other simply by sharing our stories of faith.