My well-worn wedding quilt reminds me to keep my focus on those things that last.
As I made the double bed in our guest apartment for some coming visitors, I topped the bed with a family heirloom we’ve dubbed “The Love Quilt.” A group of very special ladies from the church of my childhood made this quilt in secret for me and Jack. Each lady created her own personal square that told something about her, about marriage, or her favorite Bible verse. The four squares at the top represent me, my husband, the church where we were married and our special day.
The ladies sewed the squares together then spent several evenings tying the quilt. They had a bridal shower (without me) where they filled an extra suitcase with unmentionables tucked into the folds of the love quilt. Then they sent the suitcase with my mom to Ohio for me to open in front of both families after our wedding rehearsal. I unashamedly cried when I heard the story.My husband and I would be wrapped in love for years to come.
With the ensuing years, my husband and I graduated to a queen sized bed, so we keep the Love Quilt on display in another room. As I prepared for my guests, I smoothed my hands over the top squares, now frayed, threadbare and fading with time and use. I thought quilts were supposed to last for generations, yet this quilt was wearing out before we even hit our thirtieth wedding anniversary. The ring on my finger wasn’t an original either – my engagement ring had to be replaced around year twenty-four. Like the quilt, weren’t wedding rings supposed to last the length of a marriage?
In today’s culture, I guess I should be proud that my marriage lasted longer than my quilt or ring. The truth is, I could have taken better care of the Love Quilt. I could have wrapped it in plastic and stored it away in my cedar chest so we and our children could treasure it forever. Instead, we chose to use it so that visual reminder of some very loving women who wanted to show their support for our marriage would be prominent in our home.
That decision so typified Jack’s and my initial attitude toward our wedding. We intentionally planned a small wedding, involving as many friends as we could so our focus would be on preparing for marriage, not preparing for a wedding. I’m glad we did it that way. One look at my quilt and ring remind me that it was better to focus on the thing that should last rather than the thing that would ultimately break or wear out someday anyway.
It’s a principle I have learned (sometimes the hard way) to apply in other areas of my life. People are more important than possessions. People are more important than programs. The process is more important than the end product. The fun and chatter my children and I have over making cookies together far out-value the quality of the cookies that exit the oven. Maybe that’s what Jesus was trying to convey when He told his listeners during the Sermon on the Mount:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
As much as I love my husband, even my marriage is for this time on earth alone. Our marriage is a tool that we use to strengthen each other in the faith, to rear children who are believers, and to weld us together so doubly strengthened, we can lead others toward eternity. The final question Jack and I asked each other before he popped the Big Question was will we be more effective in serving the Kingdom of God together or separately? From the beginning, we focused on the eternal values.
We’re not perfect by any means. Our marriage has had its share of worldly distractions that we haven’t always been successful in overcoming. And in the learning process, I’m sure there are areas where I need to explore and apply this principle of eternal perspectives in ways that haven’t even begun to cross my mind. In the meantime, a well-worn quilt and the memory of a loving group of women serve as my reminder to keep the main thing, the main thing.
What lasting treasure are you seeking?