Knit1, Purl What?

Knit1, Purl1.

Wait, was that Purl1 or Purl2?

Oh man, was I knitting or purling when I last put down my project?  I can’t even tell by looking at my stitches.  I’ll just guess.

Somehow that doesn’t look right.

I know! I’ll make a blanket.  A blanket should be easy!  I’ll just puzzle out the knitting jargon and decode the pattern.

1st row: (RS). With MC, K83. Work 1st row of Chart I, reading row from right to left. With MC, K13.
2nd row: With MC, P13. Work 2nd row of Chart I, reading row from left to right. With MC, P83.

What? I just want to make a blanket, not develop some chemical formula to save the universe!

So, back I go to what I know how to do: Knit. Just knit.  I am great at making scarves, perfectly straight, totally un-fancy scarves with only one kind of stitch done hundreds of times until I’m finished

If I ever want to knit anything other than scarf, I will really need the help of an expert.

Now, many expert knitters have told me what I need to do.  They’ve explained in great detail the difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch.  They’ve thoroughly convinced me of the need to use circular needles.  I’ve been told how to make cable knit patterns and how easy it is to whip out a hat and even top it with a perfect pom-pom.

I don’t need to be told, though.  I need to be shown.

So, I sought out someone who knows what to do and asked her to show me.  She will hold her knitting needles and I will hold mine; she will make a stitch and I will make a stitch.  And then I will learn what to do, by listening to and by watching an expert.

We need experts in so many areas of our faith-walk also.  People who, like Paul, could say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). They are the prayer warrior we ask to teach us how to pray, the servant we ask to teach us how to serve, the teacher we emulate so that we may better teach others.

If we know that we need to grow in our prayer life, we could read scriptures on prayer, we could pray about being better at prayer, we could hear sermons on prayer, we could read how-to guides on prayer from our favorite Christian authors and maybe we’d learn some prayer tips.

But if we really want to pray better, we could simply ask the woman at church who has a passion for prayer to pray with us and to teach us what she has learned from time on her knees.

It’s not just faith skills we seek expertise in, it’s character also.  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

It’s a rare Christian indeed who displays the whole bowl filled to the brim with the Spirit’s sweet fruit.  Yet, there are women I immediately think of when I hear the words, “peace,” “joy,” “gentleness,” and “self-control.”  Without even knowing it, just by living out their faith in everyday circumstances, I can see the Spirit at work in them.

And I am reminded to imitate them as they imitate Christ.  Even from afar, I can consider their example, holding the knitting needles of my life up to their own and matching the stitches they are forming with their faith.

I can also ask them, “How did God form this faithfulness in your heart?  What has He taught you over time that has developed this gift in you?”

In his letters to the churches, Paul so often concludes with greetings and praise for those who have faithfully served with him.  At the conclusion of Romans, Paul writes:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test.

Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord (Romans 16:3-12).

Paul held each man or woman in this list up as an example of faithfulness, of hard work, of teaching and of perseverance.  They are names we barely blink at now as we most likely rush through the wrap-up to each of his epistles.  Long name, long name, long name I can’t pronounce, blah, blah, blah  . . . okay, done with that book of the Bible.

But those men and women mattered.  They were walking examples of Christ’s character to others and when Paul greeted them in his letters, he made sure to praise their actions, so that others would know what has value and how we ourselves should live.

Who is teaching you the pattern of faith?  Whose workmanship are you holding up as an example for your own life stitches?  What Christian, full of the spirit of gentleness, is showing you how to be gentle?  If you need to learn patience, whose example of great patience can you follow? Who is the expert that can both tell you and show you how to knit joy into your life?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.