By Marlene Houk
“And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8
I watched the flax flow through her fingers as the spinning wheel circled. As the demonstrator spun, her next words shed light on a Bible verse my heart loved. She said, “The wheel twists the flax, and at that moment the thread becomes linen.”
The Bible mentions linen ninety times, mostly in the Old Testament. The verses containing linen begin with color and drama as Pharaoh arrays Joseph in fine linen in Genesis 41:42. And, like many words in the Bible, the grand finale of the word, linen, ends with a flourish in Revelation, the last book of the Bible. As with many words, one of the last times linen appears, the context switches from physical to spiritual. In Revelation 19:8, the King of Kings allows His Bride: the church, to wear fine linen. The stunning significance of the verse equates fine linen with the righteousness of the saints.
The demonstrator clarified the difference between flax and linen. When the spinning wheel twists the thread, the flax
becomes linen. And I thought of life’s twists and turns and how they mature us as we focus on the Lord in our journey of faith. In hard times, we don’t see righteousness forming in us; we only cry over our earthly circumstances. We don’t see the chaff of spiritual immaturity scattering in the wind as we pray, worship, and meditate in His Word. But, God sees the beautiful durable fine linen of our righteousness as we struggle to focus on Him. The wheel of life twists us in the winds of trouble until the flax of our souls forms the fine linen of righteousness.
After gazing for a few minutes at the linen forming smoothly around the spool, I left the 1800s wooden house at the reconstructed colonial village and picked my way over the stones around the corner. I followed the sound of wood beating against the wood. Another demonstrator beat the dried flax stalks firmly with a wooden scutching blade, removing some of the outer shells of brittle debris. She handed the tangled mess to her friend who pulled the pile through a small heckle (bed of sharp iron nails) repeatedly to clean and straighten the strands. She would hand these to the spinner inside the house.
Watching the demonstrators beat the flax and prepare the flax for spinning reminded me of another spiritual principle. The righteousness of the saints mentioned in Revelation 19:8 often includes suffering. Focusing on the Lord while enduring trials releases the chaff of worldly thinking and reveals the extraordinary beauty of the fine linen of righteousness.
As I wandered toward another cabin, my mind lingered over the truths seen from the doorway of the reconstructed rustic home from centuries ago. I realized my life, though twisted, creates the magnificent beauty of righteousness as Christ works His image into the contours of my earthly life. We don’t see the chaff of immaturity and ungodliness falling away from our life and ultimately protecting us from evil; we only feel the suffering. Like being grateful for sitting in a traffic jam when you see the picture of the wreck, understanding eventually comes in a spiritual sense. One day, the fine white linen of righteousness we wear in heaven will shine with the glory of His presence.
Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at Bible167@gmail.com
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Blue Ridge Christian News covers Avery County, Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, and Madison County in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.