Well, Thursday was Ascension Day and my church held extra services to commemorate the momentous occasion when Christ rose from the mountain and ascended into heaven. I have written before about how his disciples may have felt – how I may have felt – if I had been there. And I have written about the welcome home He may have had when He entered once again the halls of heaven.
This time I am going to write about knots.
Yes, it is strange. What do knots have to do with Ascension Day? Well, perhaps not too much in a direct sense. But the retreat I attended after the service on Thursday revolved around knots.
I am not (no pun intended) very good at handcrafts. Oh, I dabble in paint and crayons and I enjoy making my mark on paper but give me anything more hands on to do (other than knitting which, for some reason, I enjoy) and I am pretty hamfisted.
Whilst others create wonderful models of animals and trees when given a lump of clay, I usually end up making a cave, or something resembling a baobab tree with two branches.
When confronted with a crochet hook, I can make a chain of loops and not much else.
When given a pile of mosaic pieces, I end up making an abstract shape that cannot even be called round or square.
This year, it was knots. Three pieces of leather string and some beads – and a flat knot. What, I asked myself at the beginning of the morning, is a flat knot when it’s at home? The diagram designed to help was just a lot of lines to me (I did warn you I was not much good at this sort of thing). And the instructions trickled in one ear and out the other, without connecting with my brain.
“The right over the middle, the left over the right and through the loop.”
My patient neighbour showed me again – and again … and … Well, you get the idea. But then suddenly it clicked.
‘Oh, that’s what you mean by right over middle …”
And I was away. Five knots and a bead, representing someone I wished to pray for that day. More knots and another bead – and so on.
‘How do I finish it?’ Again patience and a demonstration won the day.
Hey! I have made my own prayer bracelet, with beads and knots and tassles. It actually goes over my hand and looks good on my wrist. What a result! Not very even, not very professional, not even very neat. But I did it!
And as I looked at it I thought how prayer is just like that. We often don’t understand what’s going on.
Sometimes it takes a person to show us or to explain; sometimes it takes the Holy Spirit to work with us.
Sometimes we tangle ourselves up in knots.
But then, when we persevere, we begin to see answers. Things begin to fall into place. Perhaps we suddenly understand, or we see where we were going wrong and why the answer did not turn out the way we had hoped. And the resultant answer is a beautiful thing as we work on it with the hand of God guiding us.
Yes, maybe it was strange to tie knots in our retreat on Ascension Day.
But it was also a lesson for God can use anything to teach us. When I get tangled up in prayer and don’t know what to pray for or how to pray, I’ll remember my prayer bracelet and persevere. Who knows what beautiful results may ensue?