Just six stitches from the end when disaster struck; so close!
It was the last line of the pattern, the last row in the project... just six stitches away from success. And then a needle slipped, the stitches dropped , and the piece unraveled before my eyes.
Some of you know what that's like. You were six days days away from closing on the deal when the loan fell through. Maybe you were reaching the end of six months of chemotherapy when a bad lap report suddenly scheduled you for six more. Or perhaps you were just six weeks away from retirement when the wife you were supposed to enjoy the rest of your life with suddenly passed away.
Your faith slips, your hope drops, and your life starts to unravel before your watching eyes. Discouragement, depression, and despair want to settle in now that joy seems to have moved out. You wonder whether you can go on from here.
My issue began when a sign in the window of a still-closed yarn store drew me in for a closer look. We are a Knitted Knockers Collection Point, it read.
“What on earth are knitted knockers?” I wondered. I returned to the store a couple of hours later to find out. I discovered that they are breast prostheses for breast cancer survivors, hand-knit by volunteers and donated to a collection sight where they are distributed for free to women who request them. Made from especially soft yarn so as not to irritate sensitive skin, they are slipped inside a bra cup and are a lightweight, comfortable alternative to other expensive prosthetics that are currently on the market.
I'd heard of knitting hats, scarves and gloves for cold weather donations, even baby caps for newborns in hospitals... but this was a whole new ballgame for me. With the month of October just a few weeks away, and the annual breast cancer awareness campaign soon to be in full swing, I had suddenly found a way to participate, combining my knitting passion with purpose! Into the store I went to collect the free pattern and select some yarn off of the approved list.
Eagerly I began to knit. The pattern was easy, the progress was swift, and before I knew it I found myself just rows from finishing my first knocker. But that's when things quite literally went rapidly downhill. I was on the last round with just six stitches spread out on three needles when one of the double-pointed needles slipped out! The two little stitches that seconds earlier had been happily on board were suddenly lost at sea and sinking fast into the depths of the knitted inches below them! I immediately embarked on a rescue mission, but the small size of the stitches and the silky slipperiness of the yarn made it easy for them to drop farther and farther down into the body of the piece below. My efforts to catch and knit them back up to where I'd been left the piece an ugly mess. In disgust and discouragement I grabbed the working yarn and yanked it hard until I had unraveled the entire work. I rolled the yarn into a ball, tossed it back in the bag and told myself that I was DONE with that project for a month at least.
God gave me 24 hours to cool off...and then He brought a woman through my line at the grocery store to cause me to rethink my attitude. Chemo-bald, she was making the best of things by tying a scarf around her hairless head and shopping for her hungry family. Was it her first fight against this disease, or had she been down this road before? There was no way to know, but she was clearly fighting on. Somehow her bravery inspired me in my little bout with my ball of yarn. Shamed that I was so easily dissuaded from what little I could do to help, I went home, pulled the bag out of the closet and started to knit my knockers again.
Again in the incredible timing of God I came across some advice in a knitting book. The idea suggested that before starting on a difficult part of a pattern, one should run a long string of contrasting colored yarn through the stitches that were still on the needles, providing a lifeline of sorts should the going get rough in the rows ahead. Any disaster could be unwound only to the point of the row with the off-color yarn running through it, those stitches held in place with that supporting thread.
What a picture that presented to me! We and the people in our circle of family, friends and acquaintances are simply a bunch of stitches on a needle, our lives entwined, woven together. We bear a responsibility to those around us, looping our arms around each other as we work together to form a cohesive unit of help and hope and love. But sometimes those of us with even the best of intentions don’t notice the struggle of the ones next to us till they have slipped away and dropped off the radar of our mutual care and concern. Christ longs to be common thread Who lives in all of us...a Lifeline of support, care and prayer that catches us when we fall so that we go only so far and no farther and our lives don't become completely unraveled when trouble hits or mistakes are made.
The comfort of knowing there's a safety net below you sets you free to scale otherwise unimaginable heights of fear or sickness or difficulty, knocking on Heaven's door for help in the fight until He's made all things right in your world once more.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV)