I was nine when I learned how to crochet. Since then, I have completed countless projects from afghans, to stuffed animals, to scarves. Some of these projects were super intricate. It took tons of concentration to interpret the pattern correctly, make all the little pieces, and put them together. So when I found a simple crochet kit for a cute book bag, I wasn’t expecting to have any problems.
I was wrong. This project turned into quite a chaotic mess. Nothing worked the way I expected, and I was sorely tempted to rip the whole thing out and start over with my own pattern. Instead, I stubbornly stuck with it. I tweaked and shifted and backtracked until I finally had something that resembled a bag. Although the process was challenging, it taught me a lot about following a plan, persevering, and starting afresh.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
Following a Plan
When I first started crocheting that bag, I had a plan in front of me. The instructions seemed clear. Except the further I followed, the more problems I started to have. The base of the bag was widening at an alarming rate. By the time I finished, it was big enough to hold a watermelon. Now, what was I supposed to do? I wanted a book bag, not a melon tote. This plan just hadn’t worked out the way I expected.
Sometimes our plans in life don’t work out either. They seem right. They seem like they should work. They even seem like they’re from God. But sometimes our plans are off by half an inch, and even little differences can be vastly different from God’s plans. It’s hard to know where the line is between our plans and God’s. Often, it is only visible after the fact. The good news is, God is very good at using warning signs to nudge us back to the proper path.
There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. ~ Proverbs 19:21 NKJV
Since I had completed the pattern to the best of my abilities with little success, I had a choice to make. I could rip it out and start over, or I could persevere and use my knowledge of the craft to turn the mess into something beautiful. Despite being low on yarn and enthusiasm, I chose to persevere. Giving up on my project after coming so far was just depressing. I had to keep going. Only this time I moved forward with a little more knowledge and tactfulness.
Doesn’t this happen in life too? Somehow we always manage to make a mess for ourselves. And in this tangled disarray we must decide if will we try to salvage it or if will we give up on it. Giving up requires a lot less work. We can tuck that aspect of life away and eliminate it from our vocabulary. If it ever does come up again, we can blame it on someone else. But doesn’t God deserve our best in every circumstance? What if it was His plan and not just ours that we fouled up? Persevering requires the most work, but it is often the most rewarding. Thankfully, God offers many second chances to make things right.
Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. ~ Proverbs 15:22 NKJV
I finally got the body of the bag going up instead of out. At last, it was transforming! All I had left was the straps. This part of the pattern was fairly simple and easy to follow. It just took time, primarily because I wanted a cross-body strap to better support the weight of the contents since the bag turned out so big. Finally, I finished. Except when I measured it for a final time, I noticed my fatal flaw. I had crocheted the entire strap backward. The beautiful pattern that accented the body of the bag was on the inside instead of the outside. This mistake was not the pattern’s fault, and it was not something I could not push through. Instead, I ripped out five hours of work in two minutes and started again.
Sometimes we need a fresh start or a fresh perspective. It is not giving up. In fact, starting again often requires twice as much courage. What makes the difference is we are no longer moving forward blindly. We know exactly how hard it will be, how much time it will require, and how much it will cost. Nevertheless, we also have a great deal more wisdom and knowledge at our disposal.
My bag isn’t finished yet, and there may be another lesson to learn. But for now, I am thankful for this crochet reminder of the plans of life. There are seasons when God asks us to follow His plan and persevere. However, I am learning there are also seasons where God asks us to start afresh, trusting that there is a plan in place even if we can’t see it yet.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. ~ Psalm 33:11 NKJV
All is Grace, Esther Noe
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like, comment, and share! This time in 2020, I shared a Book Spotlight on one of my favorite books by Max Lucado. You can read it here.