My grandmother loved to knit, tat, and crochet. She embellished the edges of plain cotton pillowcases and handkerchiefs with tatting, a delicate lace made by looping and knotting a single cotton thread. She crocheted beautiful doilies and tablecloths, which now grace the homes of her children and grandchildren.
And, of course, she made practical items, cranking out mittens and slippers faster than any cottage industry. In fact, Nannie became so proficient at mitten production that in her later years (she lived to be 102), the only diagram she needed was a rough tracing of a little hand on some old scrap of paper. Then she went to work, giving life to her creation from the patterns stored in her memory.
Sometimes a family member would ask for a specific color or buy a skein of yarn for her to make into something special. But I found I was most satisfied when I simply let her create. Then whatever piece I chose carried the style and design that was uniquely hers.
Even our college roommates recognized Nannie-made mittens and asked for them as Christmas gifts.
In the same way, each creation of our Heavenly Father illustrates His distinctive flair for design—including you and me.
Let these verses from Psalm 139 soak into your soul:
For You [God] formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
When I really want to open up the meaning of a passage, I pull the sentences apart and
focus on a few key words. (I am an English teacher, after all.) So let’s look at two specific words from the lines above.
Wove: In the original language, the word wove refers to having been created and fashioned out of existing material, like cloth which has been woven into a garment. We’re all made from the same raw material. But God’s unlimited imagination came up with myriads of patterns by which to design each one of us.
Wrought: The word wrought refers to the skillful and artistic needlework found in the curtains of the Old Testament Tabernacle.
It means embroidered. The fancy kind of sewing women use to make an ordinary, everyday item into something beautiful enough to be treasured from generation to generation.
These words capture God’s artistic intent as He went about forming each man and woman.
The last section of the passage says that He planned you and me with an earthly purpose in mind. Each person’s path is different, yet all our days were ordained by Him. This idea is sometimes difficult to accept—at least for me.
In the past, I tried to use God’s own words as a crowbar to pry Him away from the plans He made for me. I used to “claim” Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
I would say, “Okay, Lord. This is what I want. And You promised to give it to me.”
Then a kind friend told me I was reading the verse wrong. She encouraged me to substitute the word shape for give. I remember asking (after she walked away), “Since when does He get to decide what’s best for me?”
The answer came, “When I formed you in your mother’s womb, I planned your days and saw who you would need to be.”
God knew exactly what lay ahead for each one of us when He was filling our minds and bodies with talents and abilities and our hearts with dreams.
So Who better to trust with all that we are? And Who better to direct how we use what we were given?
My own experiences with needlework have been different from my grandmother’s.
But both of us were able to follow in the footsteps of a creative Heavenly Father and bring beauty to life with a simple cotton thread.
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will shape the desires of your heart.