George Bowers Sr.: My piece of the quilt

George Bowers Sr.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with all the evil in this world? Drug overdoses, domestic violence, disregard for human life, religious persecution, child abuse, the rapid decay of the family, starving children, teen pregnancies, and so forth. Any one of these by itself is daunting enough, but when confronted by all of them together, a person can easily become discouraged and even depressed about the amount of prayer and work that needs to be done in our world today. Where do I begin? And will it even matter if I do?

As I pondered some of those thoughts recently, the Lord reminded me of a longstanding Christian tradition: quilting. Many congregations have a group of folks, usually ladies, who come together each week to sew quilts. Some of the fruits of their labors are donated to individuals in need, others to various ministries, and some are auctioned to benefit disaster relief or mission programs. God only knows how many dollars those stitches have generated for his kingdom’s work.

At the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference each year, quilters gather from all across the nation to share their skills for good. At the end of the week, beautiful creations emerge that are sold to the highest bidders with the money going to worthy causes. Depending on the design and the purses present, some of them bring quite handsome returns.

Some years, individual congregations from across the nation have been invited to each make their own squares and bring them to conference. These are then assembled and sewn together into incredibly beautiful designs made up of the collective gifts of many. These special quilts often bring the highest prices and it is not unusual for these to be returned in future years to be auctioned again and again generating even more income.

These quilts constructed from the contributions from many churches provide insight on dealing with oppressive evil. I don’t have to be responsible for the whole quilt, or even half of it. I don’t even have to sew an eighth. All I have to worry about is my square. And if each individual (and church) works on their own square and does a good job on it, it will bring beauty to the finished product. It was never God’s intention for any single Christian to personally right all the world’s wrongs. He sent his Holy Spirit and instituted the universal church for that and called millions of people to each play a role in completing their own squares that he can arrange into a fabric that will make a substantial difference.

This realization relieves me on the one hand, in understanding that I am not responsible for the whole quilt, but it also motivates me to handle my own square with great diligence. Just as I am not responsible for what you do in your square, you’re not responsible for mine. So we each must maximize the material, the gifts, and the time God grants us to produce as much beauty and grace as we possibly can. As we do so, we then entrust the Holy Spirit to assemble all of our pieces into the ultimate pattern of his design.

It is likely that of all the problems in our world, God has placed one or a few of these especially on your heart. He has a way of instilling unique passions in each of us that may not be shared by others. These are the God-ordained patterns that he wants us to sew, even if no one else joins us. And if we each faithfully sew our own individual squares well, the globe will be covered and God’s ultimate pattern will become obvious. I’m thankful for the many individuals in our churches and communities that are each doing their parts to beautify God’s quilt. May we continue to do so until Jesus returns to finish this work. In him, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, Holy Verses. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.