A sink full of dishes becomes, at times, a sanctuary for epiphanies.

While rinsing plates, I muse over a brother’s interesting habit of occasionally cutting the sleeves off of long-sleeved athletic shirts. Having grown up in a sea of athletic and tactical apparel catalogs, I know full well what Under Armour costs and cringe at the thought of chopping up high-quality gear. Ryan sees it differently. He feels that his alterations add value to the item by making it better suited to his intended use.

He has a point.

I do not deal well with alterations, I realize as the dish disposal rattles on eggshells and grapefruit seeds.

It perplexes me to see a perfectly good thing altered; anyone’s perfectly good shirt, perfectly good plan, perfectly good love, perfectly good dream. Wholeness is elegant. Fragmentation is not. Gaps should be remedied, never created.

But rarely, it seems, is the kingdom of heaven furthered by perfectly good things. Rather, it was commissioned to sinners, thieves, and prostitutes. Failures redeemed. The poor in spirit. How else can we enter the kingdom besides being altered, emptied, made new?

And yet, too often I protest Christ’s alteration of my plans and purposes as I do the shearing of sleeves from a fine piece of athletic apparel. I cling to my “perfectly good things” until my short supply of stamina runs dry, then grieve the remnants. It was a good thing. A perfectly good thing. Past tense.

Despite my unbelief, He continues to reform my “perfectly good” (which is to say comfortable, attainable, untested) into fitness for service. Letting go of what you cherish is never easy and rarely uncomplicated, but sanctification exchanges good enough for glorious. Divine alterations are always value added.

The dishes are done and a grain of sight restored.

The flames and smoke climbed out of every window
And disappeared with everything that you held dear
But you shed not a single tear
For the things that you didn’t need
‘Cause you knew you were finally free.

Death Cab for Cutie, “Your Heart Is an Empty Room”


5 thoughts on “Alterations.

  1. I think of Job. He had a “perfectly good” life. He was the “greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3, NIV). Yet, God destroyed all he had. What did Job do? “…Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in WORSHIP and said:
    ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
    The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised'” (Job 1:21, NIV).
    God is the master tailor. He’s making a beautiful robe for us. We think it’s perfect now and grow afraid when He makes an adjustment. “How could that be better?” we ask. We don’t know, but He knows. We don’t see, but He sees. Can we trust like Job and WORSHIP when something unexpected and painful happens? That is our calling. It is a difficult one, but it is our calling.

      • Yes, excellent insight Ben. There are SO many examples in the Scriptures of a “perfectly good” life being completely torn to shreds and sewn anew with God’s hand, but Job is definitely the poster child of them all.

        And as is ever proving true, excellent insight from you, Noelle. I need to get back to doing the dishes more often…

  2. Noelle,
    I only have one word to express your most recent entry “alterations”… and that word is: EPIC! Thanks for sharing your wit and your gift for communicating. I am a fan.

  3. “My life is but a weaving, betwixt the Lord and me, I do not choose the color –He worketh steadily. He weaveth sorrow and I in foolish pride, forget He sees the upper, and I the underside. Not tilll the loom is silent, and the shuttle cease to fly, shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why. The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand as the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned” (Grant Colfox Tullar).

    Love you~ This entry was beautiful…I relate, Noelle.

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