Before I reached the age of 6, I learned a central truth about the remnant. My Aunt Gladys was one of those remarkable […]
Published on: 10-01-2018
Before I reached the age of 6, I learned a central truth about the remnant.
My Aunt Gladys was one of those remarkable women who illustrated “multi-tasking” long before the term grew trendy, for she was never doing only one thing. While telling long and fascinating stories or playing complicated word games, she was invariably crocheting, braiding a rug, or sewing shirts that little boys were proud to wear. Spending afternoons with Aunt Gladys meant entering a world of projects, including frequent visits to the “remnant store.”
Among the bolts of printed cotton and yards of colorful fabrics, Aunt Gladys searched for bits of cloth—scraps and pieces—which her trained eye and frugal sense could imagine for her next project. We would return with plastic bags well-stuffed with “remnants”—squares and triangles of fabric soon integrated into another quilt or sturdy, handmade rug.
By definition and repeated observation, a “remnant” was a thing created by the choice of someone else—something left when larger pieces found their designated purpose. No square of red-checked gingham or floral fabric ever chose to be a remnant. A remnant was a thing made valuable because an artist and creator saw possibilities in pieces.
That understanding, planted in my mind before I even started school, has always helped me when the rhetoric of “remnant” seemed to imply an exclusive or self-chosen identity for those who rightly call themselves “God’s end-time remnant people.” The Scriptures are entirely clear: we don’t choose to make ourselves a remnant any more than we can claim responsibility for our salvation. It’s the gracious call to follow Jesus that creates the identity and purpose of His remnant. It’s His act to gather up small and frequently discarded fragments from other causes and faith groups according to a pattern only He can see.
It’s the glory of our Saviour that “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11), including what He makes of those the world rejects or persecutes. The vast, uncounted throng seen by the apostle John in vision is assembled from the fragments others spurned or counted worthless—a quilt, if you will, of hues and patterns pleasing to the Artist who repurposed them. His call creates His remnant: His grace is still what ties us to millions of other believers who differ in so many human categories but find our satisfying place in His design.
Rejoice in this: that you have been invited by grace to belong to that remnant precious to the Lord, those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).