“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 1:6, NASB
I am an excellent project starter. Just yesterday, I pulled out my basket of yarn and fabric, spread it all out on the bed, and thoughtfully considered which project I should begin next. Sew a little bag for all of my Bible study books? Get started on those big pillows I promised the Ducklings for their TV room (the room itself being an unfinished project)? Knit a hat or a pair of wristers to give as a Christmas gift? Oh, and there’s that lovely, shimmery cotton fiber–maybe I should crochet a pretty little scarf with it!
Of course, if there’s nothing there to strike my fancy, I can always head to Pinterest or Sew4Home or Ravelry to find something new . . . Tiger’s teacher and his wife are expecting a baby in December. Perhaps it’s time to look for another little sweater pattern or make some burp cloths?
This is what I do. My eye finds the shiny new project and won’t let it rest. It ignores the three projects I already have on the needles in favor of something prettier, more challenging, more convenient, what-have-you. My excuses for starting new projects are legion:
“The current knitting projects are too big to transport. Just a pair of socks or a little hat–something I can throw in my purse so I can do a few rows here and there.”
“Those other projects are Christmas gifts for the kids. I can’t work on them while the kids are around! But I need something to do–I’ll just start one more thing to work on while the kids are in the room.”
“I don’t want to drag my sewing machine out right now. I have other things to do. It’s easier to knit for a little while.”
“I don’t have any stuffing/baby yarn/[insert random specialized knitting tool here]. I’ll just head to the shop to get it. And, you know, browse a bit.”
Starting new projects is easy (this is why I have four books currently in progress on Goodreads). Finishing old projects is hard. They get boring, big, frustrating. They don’t look the way they should. You rip things out, untangle knots, reknit, tear seams, resew. Patterns have confusing instructions or outright errors. If you’re diligent, you see these projects through to the end, and you find, hopefully, that it’s worth it–that even if it’s not perfect, it’s warm or useful or simply pretty.
Two weeks ago in my Bible study group, we talked about how so many Christians make the mistake of seeing those they proselytize to as projects. We pray for them and talk to them with a goal in mind–to convert them. I’m not saying that’s a bad goal, but if it’s the only goal, maybe there’s something wrong. To see another human being as nothing more than a project is . . . well, creepy. These are humans made in the image of God. When we reduce them to projects and are only interested in selling them “fire insurance,” there’s a strange kind of reduction there. Please hear that I’m not against evangelizing the lost–in fact, I’m very much for it. But I know how I feel when LDS or Jehovah’s Witness missionaries come to my door–like I’m a project or a tally mark. I don’t care for that feeling.
I started thinking that perhaps we need to remember that the people we evangelize to are not our projects. Rather, they are God’s projects. It’s the Holy Spirit Who must convict and draw them. Our job is to show up, engage, laugh, cry, talk, and, most of all, share the gospel message out of natural interactions. Sometimes we get to the message quickly–sometimes it takes years. There’s no formula or pattern that works 100% of the time.
But as I thought about it even more, I remembered that I, too, am God’s project. He started a good work in me that He will see through to the end. He doesn’t abandon projects. I’m not scratchy wool or slippery fabric that He abandons as incapable of being warm or pretty or useful. Patiently, He weaves and knits and stitches, ripping out when He must, when my own stubborn will or pride take over and I lead the stitches astray (and yes, yarn and fabric do occasionally seem to have minds of their own). He reknits, resews, reworks me into something warm, useful, pretty. And I am confident that one day, He will put on all of the finishing touches and make me perfect. No more crooked seams or missed stitches–the work will eventually be made complete.
Today, I am thankful that God is a good Project Starter.
But I am more grateful that He is the Ultimate Project Finisher.
Till next we meet . . .