A number of analogies would probably work.
It’s not the chapter; it’s the book.
It’s not the note; it’s the song.
It’s not the song; it’s the symphony.
But I think I like this one best: It’s not the square; it’s the quilt.
I’ve officiated at, helped with, or attended, too many funerals this week. Funerals on top of funerals. And more that I’d have attended if it weren’t for the others.
In a real sense, all death is unnatural and reminds us that we live in a fallen world. But some deaths are, in this fallen world, a merciful release from pain and suffering.
Several of this week’s were that kind. The families still feel the sting of loss and separation, but their loved one (or ones) lived good, long lives, and the release came truly at the right time. In other cases, though, no. The death seemed almost unbearably too soon. So utterly wrong.
That many deaths and funerals, of whatever sort, force you to think seriously about life. And here’s a thought—not particularly profound by any means but true—that pushed its way through this week of many funerals.
When we look back over a life in review, what we notice is not the square, it’s the quilt.
Yes, quilt. People used to make them. Still do. Not just a comforter (though I like those). Or a blanket. (Hotel rooms need more of those.) Or a “blanket throw” for your recliner. (It takes two to make one good one of adequate size.)
I mean quilts. Hand-made. Made with skill. And, often, with love. Always made of many “squares” stitched together.
When I think of the folks whose lives we’ve honored recently (and many more before), and when we think of the quality of those lives, I don’t find myself centering for long on one small or transitory part, even if it was important. We focus instead on the whole.
Hence, my point. It’s not the square, it’s the quilt.
That doesn’t mean the squares are not important. Where the person lived. What he studied. What she did for a living. What were some of the best moments of his life, and how he handled them. What were some of the worst times of her life, and how she handled them. What she was proud of. What he was ashamed of. What he liked. What she didn’t like.
My analogy doesn’t mean that the little or daily stuff, or intervals and incidents, long or short, in life don’t matter. They matter immensely because every decision, each moment, fit together to form a life.
But when it’s all said and done, it’s not the square, it’s the quilt. Even King David had a couple of ugly squares in his. But Scripture’s comment on the whole quilt? He was truly “a man after God’s own heart.”
Quite literally, by God’s grace, the life of Christ in a person living in covenant with God colors every stitch of the quilt, every atom of the fabric. The squares, imperfect as they are, are stitched together, held together, washed in, of all things, his blood.
And the quilt is beautiful.
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.