The Lesson of the Washcloth
By Joan Benson
My longtime friend came for lunch, bounding in the door, effusing hugs and giggles with her signature enthusiasm for life. We hadn't seen each other in-person for several years, but as friends and sisters in Christ, we shared a history that spanned a few milestone-filled decades.
Anne handed me a small gift bag made of colorful cloth, ribbon-tied with flair. At her request, I emptied it onto the counter. Most of the items were practical, yet thoughtful goodies, including a devotional and Scripture verse. My eyes fell to a curious piece of knitting, a small rectangle of dark green yarn. Explaining how she was just learning to knit, Anne proudly held up her first project, a "washcloth." As she dangled the stitching between us, two rather sizable holes became obvious - not lacey, planned holes for affect. These were irregularly spaced holes where stitches had been accidentally lost.
"I don't know how those holes got in there," she announced with an infectious laugh. Thanking her for her thoughtfulness, we went on to enjoy our short time together as couples – eating, sharing, and celebrating friendship.
All too soon, it was time to part. When final goodbyes were said and our friends pulled away, I reached for the small swatch of knitting once more. I was genuinely moved, but I wasn't sure why. And then I began to understand its significance. Anne had entrusted me with her handiwork – though it was flawed. Would I have taken that risk, or would my pride have overruled?
The Bible tells us, "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, Colossians 3:12," (NLT). I had witnessed my friend's spiritual fruit in action.
Tears bubbled up as I realized that Anne also trusted me with her imperfection. She wasn't looking for my approval. This small green square of knitting was a reminder of our long-held friendship, a journey not without its own trials and breaches of understanding. Just as Laban declared in Genesis 31:48: "This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today, (NLT)" I knew the washcloth stood as a witness of our covenant relationship. Though not perfect, we were bound together in Christ's love and forgiveness.
The Lord continued to layer His truths into my heart. What joy that we can come before the Heavenly Throne as imperfect products, flawed by sin, while our Heavenly Father sees us through the filter of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes," Ephesians 1:4 (NLT).
When we ask for forgiveness, despite our "holes," our sins, Father God cherishes us as His children. Indescribable grace and mercy!
"He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins," Ephesians 1:7 (NLT).
It became clear that this little washcloth was much more than it would appear. It represented the way God has shown us to live in relationship with one another in the Body of Christ – with humility, trust, and love. It also shouted grace, mercy, and forgiveness – highlighting the loving Covenant with Father God. I knew then that this washcloth would not be used for washing dishes, but for teaching me how to live. Who would have imagined so much truth would be woven into a simple knitted washcloth?
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
Copyright © 2015 by Joan Benson. Used by permission.
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Joan Benson is a freelance writer, a former reading specialist, a wife, mother of 4 adult children, and a proud grandmother to eight cherished grandchildren. Joan has published articles in Regent University's The Christian Leader, Adoptive Families, LifeWay's ParentLife magazine and children's Sunday School curriculum. She has also written for numerous educational publishers developing teacher and student materials. Joan and her husband, Jan, live in Chesapeake, VA.
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