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God Weaving a Tapestry in Your Life

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

One of my favorite pictures of God’s working in our lives, especially during hard times, is the picture of God weaving a beautiful tapestry together with both light and dark colors (joyful and sorrowful times). On this side of heaven, though, we stand behind the tapestry and usually see only the knotted ends and frayed edges of what God is doing. If we could get “on the other side” of the tapestry, we could see God doing something beautiful, but we live on the underside with painful circumstances and God’s purposes unclear.

This image comes from a poem of unknown origin that was popularized by Corrie Ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place). Here it is:

My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

I’d love for you to think of this image in two ways:

1. FOR YOURSELF: Think of how this is true in your own life. When have you struggled to see what God was doing? How have you struggled to believe that He was weaving anything beautiful? Can you think of a time when God gave you a glimpse of the “beautiful side” of the tapestry after a season of staring at the “ugly side”? We spend a lot of time in small groups sharing with each other about the difficult situations of life, the struggles of living in a fallen world, the frustrations of staring at the “ugly side” of the tapestry. (Going back to last month’s blog post), your willingness to wrestle with your own experience of this and share that with your group will enable them to reciprocate with similar honesty.

2. FOR YOUR GROUP: If you haven’t had someone in your group share of a difficult time in life when it’s hard to trust God or see what He’s doing, you will soon. Let me tell you our temptation in those moments: We see the knotted underside of the tapestry and like to give encouragement by speculating as to what the beautiful thing is that God is doing. We like to suggest possible hopeful outcomes, to write our own endings to God’s story. This is actually NOT helpful! It’s not helpful because we don’t actually know for sure what God is doing – even if we sometimes think we do. But it’s also not helpful because it implies that what is needed for us to trust God in these hard times is an understanding of what He is doing, where the particular part of the story fits into the big picture.

Biblically, that’s not what God tells us is needed. Ask Job. Ask Joseph. Ask the author of Ecclesiastes. Our seeing the tapestry from God’s viewpoint and understanding the whole story is NOT the answer. God says the answer is to know and trust the Weaver, to know and trust that He is indeed making something beautiful, that He is in fact a God who redeems and restores even the most broken and hopeless situation even when we don’t understand why or how. He actually calls us to live almost exclusively looking at the underside of the tapestry. Our hope from that side is a trust that there is a beautiful side being created by a Master Weaver who “knows, loves, and cares.”

What this means in our small groups is that we need not tell Jack and Jill how their marital struggles are part of God’s grander purposes. We need not tell Sally Sue how her heartbreak will be redeemed. We need not tell Billy Bob how his failure will be made glorious. INSTEAD, when those “ugly sides” of the tapestry are shared, we can love others well by reminding them of who God is, what He is like as a God who can be trusted, how much He understands their pain and has experienced it himself on the cross. That’s a God we can trust. That’s a Weaver who gives us hope from the underside of the tapestry.


Rick Kingsley | May 24 2014 at 8:21 am

I have often thought of this illustration, having grown up during a time when Needlepoint was still common and with the image of many undersides in process still in my head. This captures it beautifully!

“My grace is not limited by sorrow and difficulty. Indeed, it shines like a strand of gold mixed in with black grief. My hand moves with infinite love, and I am creating a pattern of infinite beauty.” (“Come Away My Beloved”- Your Life is as a Weaving)

Anonymous | September 13 2014 at 6:01 pm

Thank you so much. I’ve been searching everywhere for this poem. The lesson Ideas were greatly appreciated as well.

Tom Sargeant | March 25 2015 at 7:48 pm

AMEN…again I say AMEN!!!  This is why God is God and we are not!

anonymous | April 16 2015 at 8:35 am

My son died suddenly and tragically two years ago, and this analogy has brought me more peace than anything else. I was searching for the quote today in order to share with others suffering with sudden loss, and I came across your blog. The advice you offer at the end was especially helpful to me. Knowing God’s attributes enables me to trust Him with all the circumstances of this earthly life, whether joyful or sorrowful.

Mary | August 13 2015 at 8:48 am

The Tapestry by Corie Ten Boom was mentioned to me by the love of my life just days before he suddenly died.  We thought it was related to another problem… little did I know it had a deeper meaning.  I also read The Hiding Place many years ago when I was going through a very difficult time.  What I have learned through this poem is to trust the Lord even though tbe pain of your circumstances may be unbearable.

In the first instance I learned many years later the blessing of tne terrible circumstances I went through.  I am now hoping to see tbe blessing in my present pain.  In the meantime I am keeping my eyes on the Lord..


Sherry | October 04 2016 at 12:41 pm

Thank-you for sharing this poem.  I too have been looking for it for a long time.  Life has many puzzling moments, but God is the master weaver and he knows just what we need and when we need it.  No matter how I think I have messed up my life he is the constant in my life and has plans for me I never dreamed of.

Mary P Weidner | October 05 2017 at 9:33 am

Imagine! Needing some in-depth analogies for the devotional I’ve been invited to give - this was found on the internet.  My limited thoughts on the ‘tapestry of life’ just weren’t enough (years ago I read Edith Schaeffer’s words about the tapestry of life, but it has become quite hazy (now that I’m 90) ..... this has been a blessing to me and now I shall share it with others!!  Thanking the Lord for your sharing.

Golden tapestry | April 04 2018 at 10:20 pm

A great article we have all kinds of tapestries take a look here

Anonymous | June 17 2019 at 11:28 am

Thank you so much. I read this analogy years ago and wanted to use it in the speech I am giving for Toastmasters this week on why God allows pain and suffering.  I appreciate your comments at the end of needing to just trust the Master Weaver. It is interesting that Ravi Zacharias has written a very helpful book called The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of our Lives.

Anonymous | July 05 2019 at 10:37 am

Hi there,

This poem was written by Corrie Ten Boom, a person who certainly understands God working through dark times to bring about a beautiful work!

Marcus | June 20 2020 at 5:26 am

Why are the darker threads specials?

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