I was on my way into worship Sunday when I looked down and noticed a button on my coat hanging by a thread. How does that happen? I wear this suit a couple of times a month, and when I do wear it all I do is talk to people and shake hands. I do not wear it when I am performing any sort of manual labor or doing any sort of physical activity. All I do is preach in it, and yet here is a button hanging by a thread. What was it that put so much stress and strain on the button that caused the thread holding it to break? How did that happen?
Asking how it happened might be a useful question if finding the answer would help to do something to keep it from happening again. But what I am really saying when I ask “how did that happen?” is that I don’t believe that it did happen. Yet, hanging by a thread right before my eyes is proof positive that it did, in fact, happen.
How did it happen? I do not know. I try to remember something — anything. Did it get caught on a door that I was opening? Maybe when I was hugging someone it got caught on something. I don’t know, but there it is hanging by a thread. It happened.
The really frustrating element of this hanging button episode is that I was the person who sewed it on my coat before. Yes, the button that I looked down and saw hanging by a threat on Sunday was a replacement button. Its predecessor disappeared more than a year ago, and I have no better explanation for its disappearance than I do for why its replacement is hanging by a thread — except that I did not do such a good job of sewing it onto my coat.
At least I did not lose this button. No, I saw it hanging by a thread. So now I do not have to go find a matching button. That is good because I have already used the one replacement button that came with the suit.
There are times in our lives when we feel like a button hanging by a thread. How did this happen? What did we get snagged by or caught on? What did we do to get ourselves into such a situation?
Maybe the thread represents our hope, our determination, or even our faith. Whatever it represents is nearing exhaustion. There is only a thread of it left to hold us in place. Without that thread we are loosed to go wherever it is that lost buttons go to.
I did not lose that button that I saw hanging by a thread from my coat on Sunday. No, I went ahead and tore it off and stuck in my pocket. Later, I will sew it on again. Hopefully, this time I will do a better job and it will be more secure and more permanent. I would rather not have to do it again, but you never know with buttons.
God can come to us in those times when we are feeling like a button hanging by a thread. God can tear us loose from the uncertainty and insecurity of the thread we so desperately cling to and hold us firmly and lovingly. In time, we find ourselves reattached by the tender hand of God to abundant life for which he created us and redeemed us; this time, attached more securely and with less uncertainty. Having been touched by the merciful fingers of God at our moment of great fear, we are no longer hanging by a thread