Patterns

While I was at a pastors wives retreat this past week, I discovered a new word in my Bible. I don’t know if that happens to you, but it happens to me pretty frequently. I’m reading along in a section of scripture that I’ve read a many times before (the retreat theme was Titus 2:7) and suddenly a word or phrase strikes me in such a way it is as if it was not there the last time I read that section. I used to think I was just thick, but now I recognize the Spirit calling my attention to something significant I’m to learn. This is one of the ways the Word is demonstrated as being “living and powerful” as described in Hebrews.

This time, the Spirit was showing me the word “pattern”. When I came home from the retreat, I looked it up to see where else pattern was used in scripture. In the NKJV, this word is used a dozen times. In the Old Testament, it is used regarding things that are to be made. Every use has to do with the pattern given for the tabernacle, its furnishings, an altar or the temple. In the New Testament, it is primarily used regarding actions. Even in one reference to the Old Testament, it is for the purpose of giving an example of what obedience looks like. We’re told to look to Jesus and mature believers for a pattern, be a pattern ourselves, and to hold to a pattern. What pattern? Why, God’s, of course.

If you’re a Christian, to this you would say “Duh.” I am blessed; I have a pattern to look to in my senior pastor’s wife. Often when we are talking about biblical instructions to believers she will ask the question “What does that look like?” That’s where my theology has to meet my reality. I have to be able to give an answer that reveals the manner in which what I know is applied to the way I live. This is the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge, between what you know and what you are. This is a challenge.

It is a challenge to articulate it because it is a challenge to live it. Living it can only happen when we allow ourselves to be changed from what we are naturally to what God wants us to be, the image of His Son. We are in the flesh self serving and self preserving. Even when we know what specific change needs to occur in us, we often resist the means that God uses to accomplish it.

Because it was a chick retreat, many of the illustrations of patterns had to do with a sewing theme. One word picture of the way God changes us had to do with seeing ourselves like a piece of whole cloth. To summarize, the cloth must be washed, then laid out with the pattern of what it is to become placed on it. Next comes pinning the pattern, then the cutting away of material that is in the way of the new thing that is being made. There’s more, but you get the picture. Think of the things the cloth experiences; washing, pressing, pinning, cutting, stitching, more pressing. They are a great picture of how God works in our lives to make us into something new. We are washed, often pressed or under pressure, pierced, have things cut away (never painless) in the process of being fashioned in the image of Jesus. But we resist, and I wondered as I listened to this study, if I could look at the picture on the front of the pattern and see what I would become, would I stop squirming?

My theology says “yes”. My reality needs a little work. What should (and will) this look like in my life? Looking at who I’m to be like can best be accomplished by immersing myself in the gospels, looking at who Jesus is and what He did so I recognize the ways I’m to change to be more like Him. Taking heed to the instruction of the epistles, where practical advice, warning and direction are given will show me how. Prayer and yielding to the Holy Spirit will enable me to do what God is showing me.

I don’t know what the outside of God’s package of the pattern for me looks like. All I see on the outside of my package is a middle aged blond. But you and I can know this-

”The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”
Psalm 138:8

Comments

Shannon said…
Hello MaryAnne!

Great post. I love that you dig in the way you do and search these things out for yourself.

Wasn't that a great analogy about all the cloth goes through to become something new?

It was so great to meet you there! God bless you today. :)

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