By Adele Seitzinger
“Royal Gold”, ~ 11” x 58”, Hand-painted Habotai silk scarf
John Calvin’s definition of grace is one I first learned as a young Christian when I was seeking to understand this gift of God: “Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God, bestowing upon us blessings that we do not deserve.” No longer a young Christian, I’ve since learned to flesh out that definition and to lean on God’s grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9 in the ESV says,“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
From this verse I learned that God’s grace is sufficient for me in every way—even in my weakness. When I don’t feel strong in what God gives me to do daily, I have asked the Spirit to remind me to take it to the Lord. Thus, God gets the glory for any “success”, and not me. The task may be as simple as finding a lost phone or as challenging as facing a loved one’s diagnosis of cancer. It might be when I am stuck in traffic late for an appointment, or when a dish for company boils over the stove and floor, just moments before our guests are due to arrive. It might be when I am tempted to nag at my husband, or when a sister in the Lord unknowingly says something that hurts me because I allow it to make me feel less than enough. In any of these examples I am weak in myself, but God gives the grace, the sufficiency to respond with Jesus’ love.
I’m not saying that just because I pray, God always makes everything work out the way I want, or that God always answers “yes”. Sometimes God wants to develop my character or to teach me that His grace is sufficient for me, that His love is enough. For example, I try to remember to pray when I am about to dye a scarf for a show and have no idea what to paint. I might try a new technique. It could work or it could fail, but either way, if I pray first, God gets the glory. It is God’s grace that allows me to proceed and to accept the result as a gift from Him.
I have included pictures of a scarf titled “Royal Gold” that illustrates this. When I was working on it, I did remember to pray before I began! I was trying a new technique of creating spots of color that overlapped and created hard edges.
I began with pink and gradually worked up one layer at a time to darker pink, blue-violet and purple. The hard edges did develop. However, the design didn’t have the pizzazz that I was looking for. I was unhappy with how things were going. I needed to find a way to unite the spots yet create a focal point of interest. I believe it was God’s grace, the Spirit working within me that gave me the idea to try another new technique. I applied gold gutta (a type of synthetic resist, used like 3-D paint in this case) in “graceful” lines across the length of the scarf while it was still on the stretcher frame. I had no idea how the gutta would react in the steamer for several hours while I set the dye colors.
As you may be able to tell from the picture, it worked! The gold stayed, and didn’t gum up or come off in patchy places. The predominant color of the last layer of the purple dye set off the shiny gold in a wonderful contrast with the lower layers of the lighter colors adding depth of interest. I can easily give God and His grace the glory for this scarf, as I did nothing to deserve this. I had no idea how my experiments would turn out and even needed to course correct mid-stream. It is a show of God’s grace and strength in my weakness—a word picture of a spiritual reality. Soli Deo Gloria.