Misfit Items and the Goodness of God - Salvation Army Canada
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    Misfit Items and the Goodness of God

    April 5, 2021 by Major Brenda Allen
    Filed Under:
    Women's Ministries

    If you were to come into my home, you would find different items that are important to me and our family.  One of my favourites is a stone carving of 6 people joined that represents the members of our family.  For me, it is also an image that reflects the beauty of being joined together as the greater family of God.  Together, as ‘one body in Christ’ joining hands, hearts, and voices, our lives are enriched in many ways because of others. 

    It was through the experience of ‘putting my foot in my mouth’ that a deeper relationship grew with one woman in God’s family. My relationship with God also grew.

    I will never forget the ‘foot in my mouth’ moment when I said something slightly embarrassing.

    At the Training College, our spiritual formation group, led by Major Cathie Harris, was gathering to meet. I noticed a basket filled with ‘odd’ items on the small table that we would gather around. In the basket was a pinecone, silk flowers, a rock, and other misfitting objects. It was at this point I said something along the lines of, “You wouldn’t think something like that would be in a boardroom.” In recalling the incident, I think I used the word, ‘tacky’ in referring to the eclectic assortment of items. Major Cathie responded saying, “I made that.”  FOOT-IN-MOUTH – oops!

    Cathie was able to laugh with me and we laugh to this day. She quickly shared how the collection of the items were a focal point. The point was not so much what was in the basket.  The point was the need to focus our attention. In considering the basket of items we were to ask the Lord if there was anything of the basket that might speak to us on that day. 

    Did you know, if we slow down and pay attention, God speaks in many ways and through many things?

    This was over 26 years ago. What I learned in that moment has not left me. I give thanks for this awkward moment. It taught me about the significant use of ‘things’ that draw our attention more deeply to the wonders of our eternal God.

    Over the months, as we met, Major Cathie Harris spoke of other purpose-filled places and purpose-full items.  She spoke of covering lamps with black fabric during the season of Lent referring to the scripture that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).  She also spoke of setting up a desert area with cactuses and sand in her home related to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness.  The idea was to create a special place where as soon as you sat there you knew why you were there – to spend time with God.

    Major Cathie taught me to pause, and to find a special place in my home to meet with God. She taught me to pay attention to the things around me and note how God, through his Spirit, might be speaking his story of love and grace into life. In attempt to keep God’s story of grace, victory, and eternal hope central, over the Easter weekend, I have added a few “Cathie touches” to my home.

    If you were to come to my house on Easter weekend you might quietly say to yourself, if visiting on the Sunday for dinner, “That white tablecloth looks quite stained to be using for a special dinner.”  You might also say “That rock seems a bit odd for a centerpiece.”  You might have more tact than I, and not spill out words that say what you might be thinking (your own ‘foot in mouth’ experience).

    I sewed the white tablecloth, with the image of the cross at the centre, many years ago (I am not a seamstress!) I wanted the image of the cross to be seen not only by my children but David and me. The stains are from many meals served on that tablecloth. A black tablecloth was added to the table for Good Friday.  Actually, it wasn’t a tablecloth, it was a piece of black cotton material which became more grey than black over many years of use (remember… I am not a seamstress)! This piece of material, with frayed edges, was used until a few years ago when someone sewed the edges of some new material I bought. It was finally a real tablecloth! Throughout the years, this black tablecloth has been topped by a large round stone. Together, on Easter weekend, we have fixed our eyes on Jesus - the one who was laid behind the stone, remembering it was a dark day when he was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb.  This is not overlooked as we eat from the black tablecloth over Friday and Saturday.

    Early Sunday morning the white tablecloth replaces the black. This powerful image remains in our home and is one that will speak to us this coming Easter. It speaks of the light, life, and hope that is ours as we walk with Jesus.  The risen one is with us!  As a favourite hymn says, “He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own.”  We walk, as a family, with the risen Jesus!

    This Easter, perhaps you might find an object and place it in a central location within your home, where it focuses your attention (and possibly your family’s) on our Saviour, Jesus, who is journeying with us. Alternatively, you might find a place in your home that becomes a purpose-filled place, where in its defining, you know it is the place you meet with God. You may also choose to thank a woman in the family of God who has taught or shown you something that you have not forgotten, which has shaped your spiritual walk with the Lord.

    I am grateful today that God even uses ‘foot-in-mouth’ experiences to remind us of his ongoing story of grace, victory, and eternal hope. May these eternal truths fill your home this season, and may God use you to share of his great working in your life, even through something as simple as a stained, homemade tablecloth. 


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