God’s Knitting: An Analogy
My mother knits. Although Mom did not pass on any knitting genes to me, she has a lifetime collection of afghans, baby blankets, sweaters, shawls, mittens, slippers, and vests credited to her amazing knitting talent. Some of the things she made for me when I was a child are so strikingly beautiful that I keep them in my closet today.
God knits too. Psalm 139:13-14 says: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God’s end project is not a blanket or a sweater—God knits people.
I’ve noticed a number of striking similarities between my mother’s knitting and God’s knitting. Let’s look at each one briefly.
Made in God’s Image
My mother spends so much time with her projects, altering patterns and choosing colors and stitches, that it’s easy to see that part of her is knitted into each garment. She is clearly visible in her projects. The creation account in Genesis describes this same process. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (1:27). When God creates our “inmost being” and knits us together, God himself is reflected in each one of us. As amazing as this is, when we become God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ, that likeness becomes even clearer. The apostle Paul says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Made for a Purpose
The items my mother knits all have a different purpose. The colorful afghans she makes as a graduation gift for each of her grandchildren are very different from the small white blanket each one received as a newborn. The purpose and use of each item differs depending on how it is made.
God also has a specific purpose for each one of us. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). Paul offers this affirmation: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Rom. 12:6), and then challenges us to use these different gifts in proportion to our faith.
Made to Be Part of a Whole
My mother never intends for one item she’s knitted to cover all of the clothing needs we have. Some items were made for warmer weather while others are for cold weather. Some items are to be used in a rugged setting while others require a delicate touch. Each is part of a larger wardrobe.
So too God created each one of his children to be part of a larger body of people. “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:4-5). Clearly we were created to live in community, enjoying one another’s gifts and ministering to one another’s needs. Our strengths are knitted together for us to support others. Our weaknesses and needs are part of God’s design so that others may minister to us. We truly were created to need one another.
“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”
This understanding of God’s knitting process certainly helps us to see our friends with special needs in a new light. Each of us, whatever our gifts and needs, our strengths and weaknesses, can say, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps. 139:14).
When the apostle Paul repeatedly asked God to remove his weakness, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). Testifying to the reliability of God’s grace, Paul says,
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (vv. 9-10).
Not only does God use our strengths and weaknesses, but God gives us these very explicit instructions as to how we should treat one another within his family:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
—1 Corinthians 12:21-26
The Bible completely affirms the worth and value of each individual as created by God. The only special arrangements God seems to make for persons with disabilities is qualifying them for a place of honor and special treatment within the body of Christ. Any church caught saying “I don’t need you” to one of these individuals has completely violated and ignored God’s instructions to the church. In contrast, individuals and churches testify to God’s blessing as they purposefully embrace and include persons with special needs.
Nuisance or Awesome Creature?
One of my young friends at Zeeland Christian School has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. She absolutely adores animals. She wants to study them, read books about them, and talk about them. From bugs to larger critters, her curiosity is insatiable. Sometimes that love of animals prevents her from participating in the school day.
Attempting to use God’s eyes, I see a different picture. It’s possible that God is tired of us rushing past his amazing creation on our way to work or school, on our way to be “productive.” The moth with delicate wings stuck to our windshield is one of his creations. While most of us will likely turn on the wipers to rid our vision of the obstruction, my friend will have a closer look.
Perhaps God allows my friend with Asperger Syndrome to delight more in his creation and pass on that sense of awe to those of us fortunate enough to be hanging next to her in God’s closet. While my friend needs the advice and counsel of others to do well at school and home, I also need her in my life. Asperger Syndrome does not hinder her connection with God; it may even enhance it.
From Autism and Your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Barbara J. Newman, ©2006 Faith Alive Resources. Used by permission of Friendship Ministries, www.friendship.org