BEFORE the arrival of my first child, a friend made a beautiful, twin-sized quilt for my son–small calico rectangles, triangles, and squares that formed a spring scene complete with flowers and rabbits.
It was such a lovely gift that three years later, when my husband and I were expecting our second child, I took a quilting class and made a quilt of my own. And so I have done for each of my children and for the children of many friends, piecing strips of cloth into checkerboards and diamonds and mosaics of color. There’s something particularly pleasing about watching each pattern form, seeing the fabrics work together.
Last week I finished a quilt for a dear friend in Kenya who is expecting her first baby. “I Dream of Africa” I called it, using deep reds and golds and black–not colors I would have ordinarily chosen for a baby quilt. But the effect was beautiful and startling. As I pieced those vivid squares together, I thought, “How fun that my friend has no idea what I am making, no idea of the gift in store.”
In contemporary society, we are apt to believe only what we can see, test, prove. Yet, yesterday as I was reading about the death of Lazarus–a friend of Jesus’ who’d been dead for four days–I read Christ’s words, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40.
Jesus then thanked God for hearing his prayer and called Lazarus to come out of the grave. And Lazarus did. Alive. Whole. Healed.
It’s a story I’ve heard in church many times, but it was Christ’s words that struck me, “If you believe, you would see.”
Beloved children’s writer Madeleine L’Engle once wrote, “Some things you have to believe in order to see.”
This runs contrary to my natural way of thinking. When my daughter Ruth died, it was the hardest thing in the world to believe that she was in heaven. That there was a heaven. That the faith I’d built my life around was more than a fairytale–something to recite before bed in order to get up in the morning. That first Easter–with all its promise of resurrection and life everlasting–felt like a lie. I had seen my daughter dead. What else could there be?
Yet, as I turned to belief–sought God instead of rejecting him–a pattern began to form. I felt God’s presence in the middle of my pain. And I began to believe he was still working, still in control, still with me–just as he was with Ruth.
Do I still doubt? Often. But I also embrace the mystery of what I cannot see.
Last week as I finished my friend’s baby quilt, knowing she had no idea what I was working on, I thought of the great gift God has promised to each of his children. Heaven. A surprise beyond imagining. Yet Scripture says he has been working on it since creation.
Can I see it? No. But I chose to believe. And in the believing I begin to see.