One of the Best Books My Heart Consistently Ignores

I’m not exactly sure how I ended up scheduled to post to ESI on a day normally reserved for Pastor Keith Simon, but in his absence this week I have found myself strangely tempted to post a warm, glowing historical review of the much-beloved Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball franchise, complete with team photos and several links to the organization’s website. As I said, this is all very strange, since I am not a fan of any professional sports teams whatsoever. For now, then, it’s probably best if I resist the urge…

All kidding aside, it seemed good to me to follow up on a comment I received this week wherein someone very close to me forcefully reminded me of God’s sovereignty and power. How strange that I can be so forgetful and blind, because (for whatever reason) I actually needed to hear someone remind me that 1) God is good (Romans 5:8, Psalm 145:8); 2) God is all-powerful (Isaiah 46:9-10); 3) God is sovereign (Matthew 10:29, Psalm 139:14-16); 4) God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:7-11, 1 Corinthians 11:27-32); and 5) God wants to make Himself the center of my life (2 Chronicles 7:13-16).

You would think that someone pursuing a seminary degree would not need to hear these reminders as often as I do, but what I find is that whenever my baser emotions are engaged (anger, fear, panic), the very first bridge that Satan dynamites is the one that leads from what I know to be true of God to the place in my heart that houses the feelings that I have toward God. I take it as His mercy, though, that He is very patiently revealing to me that I have a huge role to play in all of this. Satan may place the dynamite on the pillars that support the bridge between my mind and my heart, but the sad truth is that it always turns out to be my own hand on the plunger once the smoke clears.

I think it was a year or two ago that I read The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias. I think so much of the book that I regularly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is in the middle of deeply-upsetting life circumstances, as the book did so much to help me “process” several truths about God, along with providing an arresting visual analogy that helps explain our role in participating in God’s great design.

If you have not yet read the book, the central analogy is built around the process of constructing elaborate handmade wedding saris in India, where Dr. Zacharias was born and raised. In a nutshell, these saris are put together using a time-honored technique that requires a father-son team working in concert with each other. The son, operating the shuttle, moves it back and forth whenever the father nods his head. The father’s job is considerably more complex; he alone selects the colors and threads that will be woven into the finished product. The son, having almost no idea what the final product will look like, simply obeys his father and waits patiently for time and mutual effort to reveal the final design, which is typically fantastic and highly-prized for its beauty, quality, and one-of-a-kind uniqueness.

Before I butcher his work any further, perhaps it’s best to let Dr. Zacharias to speak for himself:

Before my eyes, though it did not appear so at first, a grand design appears. The father gathers some threads in his hand, then nods, and the son moves the shuttle from one side to the other. A few more threads, another nod, and again the son responds by moving the shuttle. The process seems almost Sisyphus-like in its repetition, the silence broken only occasionally with a comment or by some visitor who interrupts to ask a question about the end design. The father smiles and tries in broken English to explain the picture he has in his mind, but compared to the magnificence of the final product, it is a mere lisp. I know that if I were to come back a few weeks later – in some instances a few months later – I would see the spools of thread almost empty and a six-yard-long sari, breathtaking in all of its splendor.

Throughout the process, the son has had a much easier task. Most likely he has often felt bored. Perhaps his back has ached or his legs have gone to sleep. Perhaps he has wished for some other calling in life – something he might find more stimulating or fulfilling. He has but one task, namely, to move the shuttle as directed by the father’s nod, hoping to learn to think like the father so that he can carry on the business at the appropriate time.

Yet the whole time, the design has remained in the mind of the father as he held the threads. In a few days, this sari will make its way to a shop in Delhi or Bombay or Calcutta. A lovely young lady with her mother will note the saris on display. This one will catch her eye and she will exclaim, “Bohut badiya [How grand]! Khupsurat [What a beautiful face]!” A sari with a beautiful face, because a grand weaver has purposefully designed it. Before long, it will be draped around her, beautifying the lovely bride.

Now if an ordinary weaver can take a collection of colored threads and create a garment to beautify the face, is it not possible that the Grand Weaver has a design in mind for you, a design that will adorn you as he uses your life to fashion you for his purpose, using all the threads within his reach?

As I mentioned earlier, I like to recommend this book simply because I think that Dr. Zacharias uses language both simple and yet amazingly profound to provide us with a memorable visual to help us grasp a larger truth about how God wants to work in our lives to create something beautiful, something beyond our ability to comprehend, and all He asks is that we cooperate with Him in moving forward His great design for our lives.

How much more awful, then, that even though I am well aware of this biblical truth, and even though I have a terrific visual image to go with it and calm my heart, I still frequently find myself kicking at the goads (Acts 26:14) and grappling with God when things do not go my way at work, an enemy routinely gains the upper hand, a child rebels, or even something as mind-numbingly petty as someone cutting me off in traffic? Wanting with all my might to have the heart that David had for God (Acts 13:16-22), I find myself time and time again back on the bank of the Jabbok, wrestling with God and refusing to let Him go until He blesses me (Genesis 32:22-31).

Striving with God is probably the most serious sin of which I am frequently guilty. My theology tells me that God is sovereign and has ordained all things in my life for good (Romans 8:28) and yet, and yet…I still show up to foolishly wrestle with Him whenever my emotions get the better of me. My prayer for myself (and several other Christians I care deeply for) is that all of us would adopt the heart attitude of the young boy holding the shuttle of the loom, trusting God to throw us the threads and colors that will somehow weave together the story He had in mind when He caused us to be knit together on our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). I pray that all of us, beginning with me, would just stop asking questions as the threads we do not expect – or appreciate – are thrown into the fabric of our lives.

Job 42:1-6 (ESV)
Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

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