The back of the world

GK quote

“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It’s that we have only seen the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front–” ~G.K. Chesterton

I love this quote.

It reminds me very much of a word picture I was taught years ago.  Maybe you’ve heard it too:  The backside of a quilt in progress, with all its knots and frays, is an unsightly, disjointed, chaotic and ragged mess. Oh, but when the quilt is taken off the rack and turned around, what a joy to behold!  Now patterns and colors boast beautiful contrasts and highlights.  Intricate stitches and careful attention to detail all come together to make a beautiful work of art.

front GKWhat we see on our earthy journey in our limited understanding,  is the backside of glory.  We can only see muted colors, scraps of worn fabric, and faint outlines of what appears to be a knotted, gnarled disaster.  We try to reconcile our disappointments, suffering and pain with what God’s word tells us about all things working together for good, and that He makes ALL things beautiful in His own time.  Try as we might, we struggle to see the beauty from this side, and in our impatience, we attempt to embellish the wrong side of the quilt.  We mistakenly believe that if we just had a shiny button, or a sparkly sequin, it would make it look a little prettier.  All the while  God is “…’round in front” admiring His finished work. Complex designs are carefully quilted in with threads of grace; the whole work of art pulled, tied and intricately bound in love.  From His perspective, the highs and lows of our life experiences complement each other and showcase His providential glory that has been pieced together with patience and time.

If only we could get ’round to the front.

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