The other day I found several messy bundles of tangled cotton thread – straight off whole reels and directly into ‘tangle-dom’ – my heart sank and I was just a touch cross with the ‘perpetrator’. (For more of the back story and something of what I learned about myself in the untangling process, pop over to the Connected Coaching blog and take a peek.)
Long story short, I ended up untangling some of the thread. As I did so, my hands were busy, but my mind was occupied much less than usual with the task at hand, needing as it did little intellectual thought, and a lot more perseverance and determination! At times like these I suspect God sighs with relief, and says something like, “Finally! Now she’s not so swept up with her own thoughts, worries, plans – analysing, struggling and empathising, perhaps I might now get a word in edgeways and she’ll actually be able to hear me!”.
And so it was, as I carefully drew threads apart, teasing, pulling, gently prising, this is what I saw.
My thread was golden, and I saw it as if a daddy were looking at his son or daughter; a mass of energetic potential which had got itself into a terrible mess.
If this child were to try to extract itself, much like me, it would struggle to find the free ends, and even then with each pull or semblance of progress, something somewhere else would pull fast. The knot would become unworkable and more loops and twists would suddenly have formed. Frustration would surely ensue!
I was challenged as to the value of the thread. Why not throw it away and start again?
Dad looks on. He could never again give up on His child like that! He had wiped the face of the earth once before in horror at what his creation had become and the mess they had made, but had promised resolutely never to do that again.
He loves his children fiercely and jealously. He pursues them, gently though, always hoping, believing they will let Him ease out the tangles, loosen the knots and bring things back into alignment.
He looks at that golden thread. He knows full well that the enemy will whisper to His precious children – ‘You’re worthless’, ‘God’s given up on you; abandoned you, you’re condemned to be messed up like this forever’, ‘Your parents probably wish they could chuck you away again and start all over with your little brother’, ‘What a disappointment!, ‘What a monumental mess you’ve made of things!’,
‘Well, you’d better sort yourself out, get straightened up on your own – surely know one is going to come to your rescue now – they wouldn’t want to know you if they saw what you were really like inside’.
It’s important to know and remember, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (our truth, our love, our peace, our future, our relationships – especially our spiritual childlike-ness). (John 10:10). The only father the devil is good for, is being the father of lies.
When God looks at that tangled thread, he might feel sad for his child, but he doesn’t condemn; he doesn’t throw his hands up in despair, or roll his eyes in contempt at his kids’ predictable lapses. He is committed to the process with a heart full of love.
He sees those pinch points, he knows our pain and distress. He works slowly and tenderly, taking just one piece at a time. Work it a little, find the lines of the thread, seek out the roots, loosen it up. “I’ll come back to that part in a bit, that’s enough for now.”
Then taking up another tangle, working now with that – what looked like an impenetrable and hopeless bunch of fibres, suddenly come loose revealing a few twists here and there. Finding a knot that wasn’t really much of a knot, just a small loop around some other loops. He sees where the thread has become immovable, where it seems a cut must be made to make any more progress, his penetrative gaze sees how truth and lies have become twisted together meaning they are stuck, apparently embedded the one in the other. Somehow, with a delicate pull here, and a teasing apart there, they fall apart so easily as if they had never been attached.
Occasionally there is a small length that must be cut out. It is knotted in on itself and to try to prise it apart would shred the cotton to pieces. The part that has already been wound back onto the reel just won’t fit through.
Michaelangelo (allegedly) said of when he created his most famous stunning statue, all he had to do was the chip away all the stone that wasn’t David.
Now, regardless of the fact that it’s highly unlikely to have been said by him or any other famous sculptor, there an enchanting idea contained therein which perpetuates the myth. Similarly it occurred to me that with this cotton thread, perhaps the Lord simply takes out those parts which never truly reflected his child; the sections that added nothing to his or her potential. As he continues the untangling – a life long process it seems, he gently removes that tiny knot which would prove such an obstacle if you were to try to thread it through a needle; or that frayed part which would no doubt have broken the thread under the least tension or strain.
There are times when it seems that God takes something away from us which we had been very attached to.
We find that even lengths of cotton that have been freed still have kinks and creases which encourage the thread to twist up again at the least opportunity. To be properly marshalled they must be turned round and round the bobbin – kept under tension to keep them in place.
Left to their own devices they would return to their troubled nature! Only later can we look back and see the bigger picture. See how it was for our benefit or how he worked it all together for our good. For a future – at that time yet hidden from us.
Let me know what you think. Are you in a place of tangles perhaps, or feeling fairly safely wound onto that reel at the moment?