Sister Tarpley’s column: My Quit of Life

Sister Tarpley and Nicholas Demus Johnson

Today is my birthday; and I thank God for blessing me all of these years.  This story came to mind as I reflected on my life’s journey.

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all of the other souls.  Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

As my Angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was.  They were filled with giant holes.  Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficulty for me; the challenges and temptations that I was faced with in everyday life.  I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me; nobody else in this group had such squares.  Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune.  I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My Angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding the air.  Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed; held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth.  The others raised each in turn, holding up their tapestries.  So filled their lives had been.  My Angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame.  I didn’t have all of the earthly fortunes as the others.  I had love in my life, and laughter.  But there had also been trials of illness and even death of loved ones.  There were false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it.  I had to start over many times.  I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only somehow mustering the strength to pick up and begin again.  I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking God for help and guidance in my life.  I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully; but each time I offered it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the condemnatory gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth.  My life was what it was and I had to accept it for what it was.  I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.  An awe-packed gasp filled the air.  I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me.  Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ.  Then my Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes.  He said, “Every time that you gave your life to me, it became My life, My hardships and My struggles.  Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.”  May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!  –Anonymous

Striving Versus Abiding – “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” – Psalm 127:1a

What does it mean for the Lord to build the house? It almost seems a contradiction when we consider that we might be the builders in this passage. God wants us to allow Him to build the house. He explains further:

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves” (Psalm 127:1-2).

God is telling us there is a way of working without striving.  His warning to each of us is to avoid thinking that outcome is based on our sweat and toil. Outcome is based on obedience. That outcome is sometimes more than we deserve. Sometimes it is less than we hoped for. His desire for each of us is to see Him working in our daily work life. He wants us to avoid looking to our own effort to gain an outcome.

One day Jesus called out to Peter from the shore of the lake and suggested he throw his net on the other side of the boat. It was this simple act of obedience that yielded a tremendous catch that he would not have received unless he obeyed.

We are called to work; He is called to bring forth the fruit. He is the vine. We are the branches. Fruit comes forth naturally from a healthy tree.

Ask God to show you when you enter into striving. Ask Him to show you the difference between loving trust and obedience and striving for outcome. It can be challenging for us to balance this in our daily life.  He wants to help us walk in this freedom and rest.

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