As I was folding up an afghan to drape over a chair I realized something. I’ve been using the afghan’s underneath side as the outside. The side to display. How many times have I folded this particular afghan and not noticed this? How could I so consistently be inside out and upside down?
Have you ever felt that way? Like you’re inside out and upside down? Like you’re hanging from a combination tilt-a-whirl and Ferris wheel by your feet with nothing to hang onto. You’re trying to grasp onto something, but the wind moves you around and you can’t find a hand hold. And yet, you don’t want to grab just anything. Deep down in the core of your very being you know there’s more to life than just living for momentary gratification, but you’re not sure what it is. And you don’t know who to ask.
Maybe you’re someone who’s bought into the advertisement in our culture that says grab all you can get now. Be the prettiest you can be, but you’re never quite pretty enough. Own the best toys, but there’s always one more you must have. Make sure you have the most, but you never have quite enough.
Maybe you rush around trying to impress others with all that you do. You’re running here and there and everywhere so you have no time to simply sit and reflect on your life. What is your purpose here on earth? What gives significance to your life? What and whom are important to you?
Maybe you feel like the world is changing all around you and it no longer makes sense. That will make you feel like you’re living inside out and upside down. That must be how the disciples felt in the New Testament. Here they are. Men living ordinary lives like any other men. They’re living their lives with the afghan the right side up. Up is up and down is down. Suddenly, Jesus enters their lives and everything they’ve known and believed is turned inside out and upside down. They will never be the same again.
There’s no going back. They travel roads they didn’t know existed with feet that are tired and worn but do not stop. They are companions and students and friends to the Son of God here on earth. They see physical healing miracles, but more importantly, they witness changed hearts and transformed lives. Jesus touches the untouchables. He ministers to the forgotten and the discarded.
Are the disciples’ lives turned inside out and upside down? You bet. Do they always understand what’s going on and who’s doing it? No.
Yet, even when they don’t understand exactly who Jesus is, they do not follow another. Some fall away, but Jesus turns to the original disciples and asks them if they want to leave, too.
Peter so precisely and with knowledge certainly given to him by the Holy Spirit replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
The afghan is crocheted beautifully with some bright oranges and other more subtle colors. The side that I thought was the right side is striped. The other side has a much fancier pattern. One that is not easily created. It took some thought and an expert crocheter to accomplish this pattern.
And yet, the real beauty is the inside out and upside down part of the afghan. That’s where the work has been done. That’s where the truth of the afghan lives. Each stitch. Each knot. Each underside motion is the heart of the piece.
So it is with our lives. We have the right side up part, which others see and mistakenly think is all there is. A leper is just a leper. A woman with seven demons inside her is simply crazy. A lame man will never walk. A blind man will never see. A woman who’s been bleeding for years is untouchable. A cheater never changes. A dead man won’t live again.
A woman on welfare will never get a job. A man with a low-paying job won’t amount to much. A homely girl won’t find love. A sinner won’t be forgiven. And yet, if we allow Jesus into our life and ask him to be the crocheter, we will be changed. Stitch by stitch. What appeared to be our life will be turned upside down and inside out, becoming more beautiful than we could imagine.
May we all one day see the upside down and inside out part of our lives and see the Lord’s handiwork in every stitch.