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Tangles, Prunes, & Overflowing Joy


One of the things I have discovered during these post-retirement, mid-pandemic days, is that I enjoy knitting. I love working with the different colors and the soft yarn that goes into the afghans I have been making.


One of the basics of learning to knit is developing a knack for finding an end in the center of the ball of yarn so that the ball lies neatly and doesn’t bounce all over the place while you pull your supply from the core. Sometimes when you find the end and pull, a small amount of tangled up yarn comes out with the end. It is usually not difficult to untangle the yarn and begin your project.


Generally, from the initial pull, the yarn feeds smoothly and tangle-free. There are times however, when a tangled clump comes from the core of the ball of yarn which seems to be tangled beyond hope. Detangling these stubborn clumps can take over an hour and must be accomplished gently and carefully or an even more tangled mess results.


Recently, after spending over an hour working with one of these messes, I had rescued a good portion of the yarn but was left with one small, and particularly persistent, tangle. I decided that there was no other way but to cut each end of the clump. It would be easier to untangle the clump with two free ends rather than with an afghan on one side and an almost full ball of yarn on the other side. That part of the yarn, I could easily knit back in. So I cut it and set the rebellious clump aside to work on later. At an appropriate time in my knitting pattern, I returned to the clump of tangles, worked with it some more, got it returned to its original intent, and knitted it into the afghan. When I revealed the finished work to my sister who is the recipient of this particular afghan, she was overwhelmed at the beauty in the fruit of my labor, and that I would take the time to make it for her. The knitting was complete and my joy in my sister’s response was complete. She will be able to curl up in her afghan on long winter’s night and stay warm for years to come. I knit love into every stitch!


I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruits, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. . . . When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. . . . I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! (John 15:1-8 NLT)


We are all like the balls of yarn I use to make those afghans. On the outside, we look like we are all neatly wound and beautifully crafted. But every now and again, as God fashions us into his pattern for our lives, a clump of tangles comes out of the middle, our core, our heart. God has to gently and carefully untangle our messes. Sometimes, we are just rebellious enough that we refuse to untangle and he has to prune us, or cut out a section, in order for us to be productive. Then, as only God can do, he untangles our messes and knits us together into a masterpiece designed for its original intent, which can warm the heart of our neighbor, bring color to a dull and dreary world, and extend overflowing joy to a broken spirit. God’s love in every stitch.

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