Saturday, July 25, 2020

Quilting the Pieces Together

Photo by Francis.arquesa 2014

I dreamed that my family and I are touring the French countryside, accompanied by a young blonde girl, wearing her hair in a braid, whom I didn’t recognize. In the dream, we have just visited an ancient chateau and are walking along the bank of the surrounding moat. I find a fossil that contains what look like four black teeth, and I cry out excitedly to my husband, who is an avid fossil collector. But he doesn’t share my enthusiasm, and dismisses my find, saying “Oh, that’s just old building material.”
We come to a tree which has been uprooted and is lying on its side, the dead roots pointing backward along our path and the black, bare branches pointing forward, like a giant sea fan stranded on the beach. However, most of the trunk seems to still be connected to the earth by vines overgrowing it.
The young girl asks me about the bed coverings we had seen in the castle, all pieced together. 
“You mean quilts?” I ask in surprise. “Haven’t you seen a quilt before? You and I need to have a long talk about quilting!” 
I explain how I had once started to make a quilt, but I hadn’t spoken to anyone who knew how to do it, so I had to learn by trial and error rather than benefiting from the experience of others. I had chosen to use hexagonal quilt blocks instead of squares, which made my task even more difficult. Undeterred, she says she wants to make a theme quilt, based on the subject of painted cities. 
We meet up with our son, who is acting as our tour guide, at the visitor center, and we ask him if we can go back along the bank to explore further. He says no; we have to move on to our next destination. 
As I awoke and contemplated the meaning of the dream, I realized that a fossil is a preserved record and memento of the distant past. To dwell in the past is a danger, if we attempt to treasure it in itself, rather than realizing that the lessons learned and experiences we had there are just building material for our present life. In the dream, my son warned me that we can’t revisit our past experiences, because it’s time to move on to our next destination. 
The fossil in the dream took the form of teeth, which in Scripture are often equated with violence, aggression or insatiable greed (Deuteronomy 32:24; Job 16:9; 41:14; Psalm 35:16; 37:12; 124:6; Proverbs 30:14; Isaiah 41:15; Lamentations 2:16; Daniel 7:5,7; Zechariah 9:7). The fossil teeth were black, suggesting that God can use even the darkest experiences such as these, whether we were victim or perpetrator, to shape us more into the character of Jesus (Philippians 3:10), working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). 
There were four teeth in the fossil, and the first mention of the number four in the Bible references the fourth day of Creation, in which God made the sun, moon and stars not only as light sources, but to indicate and measure the passage of time and to give us the four seasons  (Genesis 1:14-19). These measurements really have personal meaning to us only to mark past events, for we are not promised tomorrow (James 4:14), and only God knows how many years or even minutes our future on earth holds (Luke 12:20). 
The uprooted dead tree we encountered also suggests the contrasts between the past, for the roots were pointing backward, and the future, with the bare branches pointing forward, indicating a general direction but no details, for our future is unknown except to God (Jeremiah 29:11). But the only part of this tree still connected to the earth and showing signs of life was the trunk, symbolizing the present in which we must live (Psalm 118:24; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:13). As the saying goes, “Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.” 
Jesus warned us not to worry about the future (Matthew 6:25-34), but instead to ask Him for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3), which He will provide just as He provided daily manna for the Israelites on their wilderness journey (Exodus 16:15-34). Although we are not to dwell in the past, or to let Satan rub our noses in our past mistakes, we should constantly remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness. 
If we remember that He is faithful and just to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), Satan cannot use these as a weapon against us. The prophet Samuel took a special stone and named it Ebenezer to remind the people of the LORD’s great help against their enemies (1 Samuel 7:12). 
In the dream, we were walking along the bank of the moat, which was used in ancient times to separate, distance, and protect the castle and its inhabitants from invaders in the world. Similarly, Scripture warns us to keep ourselves separate from the world, by being decently different in our speech, lifestyle and dress, and to be holy as God is holy (Romans 12:1;1 John 2:15; 1 Peter 1:15-16). 
Although I didn’t recognize her in the dream, I realize now that the young blonde girl with the braid represents my former self, and that she resembled me as a teenager. Even as a child, I loved collecting and preserving memorabilia. The art of quilting seems to symbolize how our life is pieced together from memories and building blocks of experience, and the quilt I had started making in real life was made from cloth hexagons, which I embroidered to reference places I had visited and important life events. 
But I never actually finished the quilt, which is fitting, because my life still continues as a work in progress, praise God! He is piecing it together like a fine tapestry. At times I only see the rough seams, tangled threads, and knots on the reverse side of the quilt. But when I see Him in glory, He will show me the right side of the beautifully fashioned work of art He designed! 
As I had attempted to preserve my past memories through quilting, I had done it on my own, without first seeking Godly counsel. Learning from the life experiences of fellow Christians, with their wisdom and advice set in a Biblical context (Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 10:25), is one of the great benefits of being part of the church, or body of Christ (Romans 7:4; 12:5). Of course I had not done that when I began the quilt, as I was still unsaved and full of prideful self-righteousness, listening neither to Christians nor to God Himself. 
It is interesting that I chose the hexagon as the pattern for my quilt blocks, as six is the number of man (Revelation 13:18). The more traditional four-sided, square quilt block reminds me of the term foursquare, which occurs in God’s directions for making holy items for His service, like the altar (Exodus 27:1; 37:25, etc.) and the breastplate (Exodus 39:9). It also describes the court in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 40:47) and the holy city of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:16). 
Why did the girl, representing me before I was saved, want to make her quilt on the theme of painted cities? “Painted” in Scripture generally refers to worldly adornment for purposes of seduction or ungodly pride, as in the evil queen Jezebel painting her face (2 Kings 9:30), and the rebellious nation of Israel painting her face or eyes to please false gods that could not save nor even love her (Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40). 
The prophet Jeremiah warns the king of Judah that his city will be destroyed because of the wrongdoing of the people, but that in contrast, God will build a beautiful, spacious house of cedar painted in vermilion, a brilliant red pigment (Jeremiah 22:14), looking ahead to the shed blood of Christ that saves us from all our sins (Matthew 26:28; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:22). 
If we follow the world and its idols, our lives and cities will be in shambles. But if we are saved by our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and if we trust Him to design and create the quilt of our lives, He will work in us a beautiful and miraculous masterpiece!

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I wasn't aware that your husband has an interest in fossils, as since my schooldays I too had an interest in them. But not as a testament of Noah's Flood but rather one of Evolution.
Today I have a small collection of fossils, one of a trilobite and a couple of ammonite fossils, all which I bought from a specialist shop in London (they're quite expensive!) I keep them on display in our lounge as a testimony for the truth of the Bible.
Although I'm totally unfamiliar with the craft of quilting, I also have an interest in Roman mosaics, which must be very similar. Here in Britain, there are several ancient Roman floors on display, showing spectacular examples of intricate stonework.
But all can be seen as the visible symbol of the spiritual mosaic which develops slowly in our lives as we walk in the lead of the Holy Spirit.
God bless you and your husband (Richard?) and may he take good care of those fossils!

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Yes, Richard is now fascinated by fossils, and especially fossilized shells. We are blessed to find many fossils on the beach we frequent, and were shocked to find the origins of some of these. The expert at the fossil club which Richard has joined said that an odd looking fossilized bone we found on our west Florida beach was the ankle bone of a camel! Hard to imagine how it got there, but it makes perfect sense in the context of Noah's flood! We have also found fossilized horse, bison, and deer teeth on the same beach.
Praise the Lord than He can lovingly piece together small scraps of our daily lives and fashion them into an amazing artistic creation!
God bless you and Alex too!

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
your dream was a beautiful example of how the Lord is able to speak to us spiritually, and your interpretation of it was perfect. I totally agree with not looking back at the past, as every day of our lives is written in His book before even one of them was formed. He knows the way we take and can even use our 'not very nice' past to cause us to have sympathy with others through having empathy. None of us are perfect but all things will work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.
God bless you for sharing your post which I know will encourage all who read it.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Brenda, for your very kind and uplifting comment. It is amazing how He takes the broken pieces of our lives and puts them all together for His purpose and plan, which He has had for us since before the world began. God bless you,