Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days of October: Day 29... Comfy Flannels


"The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly
changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools."

- Henry Beston, Northern Farm

Forever 21
I'm a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl but when the cool weather of October rolls around, I want a flannel shirt!   
The origin of the word is uncertain, but a Welsh origin has been suggested as fabric similar to flannel can be traced back to Wales, where it was well known as early as the 16th century. The French term flanelle was used in the late 17th century, and the German Flanell was used in the early 18th century.  Flannel reached its peak in popularity in the 1990's due to popular grunge bands wearing the shirts for their signature style of dress.
Flannelette is a napped cotton that is the texture of flannel.
Cotton Flannel or Canton Flannel is a cotton fabric napped on one or both sides.
Ceylon is a wool/cotton mixture fabric.
Diaper Flannel is a sturdy cotton fabric napped on both sides primarily used for... you guessed it... making diapers.
That is really more than I need to know about flannel to enjoy wearing it.  I just wanted to include that for the curious among us. :-D (Thank you, Wikipedia!)
Flannel may not be the most fashionable choice, except for at a gathering of lumberjacks, but it is soft, warm, strong, versatile, colorful...  what's not to love?  It is comfortable and who doesn't want to be comfortable? 
Lengthy faith application ahead...
As much as I like to be comfortable there are times when a flannel shirt doesn't do the trick.  No amount of soft fabric, food, talking or sleep will help.   I need to be comforted by a source that is greater than any thing, wiser than any person, and truer than any thought of my own.  Struggles and afflictions abound in this life but we have a God who sees and supplies what we need.  Here are some words from a man who knew full well what suffering, and the consequent comfort for it, was like...  
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.   
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 
The apostle Paul gave up everything to be a minister of Christ.  His life was one of prestige and ease until He began his born again life.  That's when his troubles really started.  He was whipped with 39 lashes (5 times), beaten with rods (3 times), and stoned. He was shipwrecked (3 times) and adrift at sea.  He was in danger everywhere he went (city, wilderness, sea, rivers) and from people of all walks of life (robbers, his own people, Gentiles,  false brothers).  He knew toil and hardship, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure.  He had many sleepless nights.  All of this while still maintaining vital communication with the churches where he had been.  The very people he loved and served even turned against him.  And he still praised God.  Why was he able to do that?  We don't even have to guess because he tells us later on in the same book...
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Light?  Momentary?  Let's look back at that list again.  Yes, I'm reading it again, too!  Why would a human endure such things in order to keep following God's will?  Because of the glory beyond all comparison awaiting him in eternity!  If we read all this in context, Paul seems pretty reluctant to talk about his struggles because he did not want to glory in his own trials. But he had told them in a previous letter to follow his example as he was following Christ's example and they needed to be reminded that following God's will was worth enduring any trial.  I love how Paul  always pointed people's attention to what was beyond him.  In essence he was saying "When you look at me, make sure you look beyond me so that you can see where YOUR hope is as well." 
Oftentimes people tell us about their problems with an air of superiority. "My struggles are worse than yours.  If I can manage then so can you."  That is not what Paul is doing here.  I'm going to infer something from this text. I think part of his reasoning for telling them these things is so that they won't rely on what they see, but so that they will act on what they know.  That is what faith is.  They needed to be reminded and we need to be reminded.  I sure need to be reminded!
Turmoil from within and trials from without have often led me to seek comfort from sources that were not of God's provision.  The deception of ease is so very powerful.  It is an illusion.  Ease or pain in this life is not necessarily an indicator of right or wrong!  Paul didn't live an easy life.  Christ didn't live an easy life.  Why did I ever think that I should live an easy life?  Am I so good or have I sacrificed so much that I can demand the reward that I think I deserve?  Of course not.  None of us can.
I had started writing this post earlier last week but just didn't feel peace about publishing it so I shelved it... until I had the great blessing of hearing Debbie Dupuy speak this weekend for a women's event at the church where I attend.  It gives me goosebumps that God  STILL provides confirmation of His word! 
Debbie gave an illustration of this principle by telling us about a very trying time when  her daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 5.  Every single day Debbie had to administer 6 finger sticks and 4 injections.  Her poor little girl just couldn't understand why this had to happen.  Through tears, Debbie told of her daughter's crying and begging her to stop.  One day her suffering little girl screamed in Debbie's face "MAMAS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO HURT THEIR BABIES!!"  Her young mind just couldn't comprehend that this pain was saving her life.  
In my former way of thinking I would often say to God "If you really loved me, if you really are a compassionate God, you'd remove this pain."   I just wanted it to stop.  I didn't see that God was allowing my pain to remove the things within me that would cause me to die spiritually.  It wasn't the trial that was killing me, it was my response to it that weakened me.      
So I now take comfort, I run to His comfort, knowing that the Creator of compassion and comfort provides what I need to pass through any trouble, real or imagined, and remain in His will.  Not because I see it, but because I know it.  I needed this reminder! 
As I finish putting the final touches on this, Hurricane Sandy is approaching Delaware, where I live.  I am not generally afraid of storms but for some reason my anxiety is on high alert! "Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!"  My nature tells me to eat everything in sight to calm my nerves.  It tells me to pull the covers over my head to ignore the howling winds.  It also tells me that in order to relieve my anxiety I must distract myself with all sorts of, well, distractions.  But how is my spirit best served?  By calling on the source of comfort, the master of the winds and waters and putting my hope in what is unseen rather that what is seen.  Like that growing puddle in the floor downstairs.  That worries me. But it is what Paul calls light and momentary.   

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