Monday, March 7, 2011

My Art Lesson

  For the past few years I've grown more and more aware of the incredible artist God is by looking at things closer through the lens of my camera... I've become even More aware since I began reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts.
As I take more time to give thanks for each gift He gives, all of them precious pieces from His collection, I learn the new language that Ann speaks of in her book. That of eaucharisteo (or Thanksgiving.) Every good and perfect gift comes from above. ~James 1:17
  As my wonder grows at the beauty of His works, my heart expands.
And the thought often comes that my life is one that is being transformed into a beautiful work of Art by the Master Artist.
I'm going to attempt to paint a word picture for you. Thoughts seem to flow freely enough into my mind, but it's quite another thing for me to turn around and express them to someone else. Maybe this way they will make some kind of sense to you.
(photo by Sadie J Valeri)
  Imagine an artist beneath a canopy of trees, canvas on easel. The day beautiful and sunny. Nature, full of life and vivid color. I guess, in my mind's eye, this would be where my word-picture begins. My life being the canvas, stretched and securely fitted to the frame. And me; a painting just begun. Yes, a work of art, But very much a work in progress.
And If I believe that God’s the Artist of artists and that He will finish the work He started in me (Phil. 1:4), that he knit me together in my mothers womb and made my inner being (Psalm 139:13), then shouldn't I believe that my life can be lovely here in the present, flaws and all? And that one day when He has completed His work in me it will be entirely beautiful?  
  I do believe He will finish the work He began in me...But I get so impatient sometimes. I want the lines and contours on the canvas, that seem utterly pointless at the moment, to hurry up and find their connections, to form some sort of a picture to help me see where this is going. The progress seems so slow. I want it to look beautiful now. I want my "why's" to be answered now. So even as He carefully transforms this paint-on-canvas to masterpiece, each stroke deliberate and full of love, all I see is an unfinished piece. And it's here, when I look at things with my near-sighted, natural eyes that I get it all wrong and buy the lies... allow the thought seeds to settle, then take root.
"Maybe I know what I need more than God does." 
"Maybe He doesn't really care."
  So I grab the brush from His hand and try to do it faster, way.
  And do I actually think I can do better Than Him? The One who alone made all things, stretched out the heavens and spread out the earth? (Isaiah 44:24) Did you catch that? Alone! And I'm really gonna top that? Right...
  Yet I stubbornly swish the brush. "Thanks, but I've got this God! I think I know what's best for me!" And although there have been times His strong arms have held me back from danger, this one is a lesson He allows me to learn. One I need to learn. Even as His heart aches...Even as I run recklessly from His will, He allows it. And He waits. Knowing in the end this lesson will be for my good.
  As hard as I try, my strokes seem to taint the work He had begun. Smudges of doubt begin to mar His beautiful work. I try to focus, steady my hand. Still, splatters of sin, arrogance and defiance meet with canvas and soon cover the beauty of the brushstrokes made by His hand. Frustrated, I close my eyes... take a deep breath. Condemnation is thick and begins to curl about me and choke. I tell myself "Well, you messed it up Jen, so you better fix it! Pull it together." I open my eyes, try to shake off the anxiety, but see that the sky is now dark and angry. Heavy clouds, pregnant with rain, threaten to burst.
  And then they do. Colors bleed and drip to the ground.
  And as rain falls, so do I; condemnation tightening his grip. And his accomplice, Hopelessness, whispering in my ear, "You will never learn, will you? Your life a piece of art? Ha! You're nothing but trash to be thrown out. You've ruined God's plan for you. Just look at this disaster!" Sorrow crushes...shame burns...pride is smashed to pieces. It's painfully obvious I can't fix this myself. But not all is lost. Because this is where the brush falls from my hand. This is where my will is broken, but my spirit is about to be strengthened. This is where God's grace drowns out whispers of hopelessness. Where I'm reminded that my weakness, my brokenness, is actually the catalyst for restoration. "Through weakness My strength is made strong..." (2 Cor. 12:9)
   Head to hands and face to ground, my tears flow with rain. My heart beats a cadence of repentance, birthed from pain and sorrow. And finally I cry out to Jesus. The One who's name means God with us. And I believe it, because even as the Name crosses these lips I feel Him and I'm comforted.
Eyes now lift and meet His. He's right before me. I suddenly have an understanding that He was never more than a prayer of repentance away.
  I wait for rebuke...To my amazement, instead He cleans off the canvas and begins painting again. And honestly; I still doubt. How can this disaster be made beautiful? I would consider it a waste... toss it aside and find something new to work with. But A smile spreads wide across His face as He works. He clearly sees something redeemable about this piece...About my life... And I trust His eyes more than my own. After all, I know I can't trust my vision. I still see "through a glass, darkly" (not to mention -6.5 prescription glasses) while I'm on this side of eternity. (1 Cor.13:12)

  And as He paints, new colors revive.
  Tears of joy fall, blend, cleanse.
  Texture adds new depth.
  The unsightly splatters are masterfully turned into a garden  of beauty with each stroke.
  The smudges; now formed into stepping stones. Each representing  a story of God's grace in my life. Each bringing me a step closer to Him.
(Photo: idnurse41_Deviantart)
  Everything is now awash with God's color-giving, life-giving glory. Above now, is most brilliant azure. And oh, how wonderful it is to feel the warmth of sunlight after a storm!

  My breath catches at the beauty He creates and suddenly He takes my hand and leads it in a dance across the canvas...Gentle brushstrokes, flowing and beautiful with His Hand steadying mine. Guiding...assuring.
  And I wonder; Why doesn't He scold? After all, I deserve to be taught a lesson, don't I? Is He this quick to forgive? Shouldn't He require some kind of retribution for all I had destroyed? Repayment for all of His time and work on my behalf? But, the scolding never comes.
There have been times I've received rebuke from my Lord...And although I sometimes require of myself some form of penance for my actions, His words sting only for a moment before their healing is released. There's always been healing in His rebuke. He's a good Father. Just and full of love.
Our eyes meet...and with one glance all of my questions are answered...
  The "lesson" began when He allowed me to take the brush into my own hands, As I ran, reckless and wild, bent on painting my own scenery. It continued as my heart broke in repentance over the realization of my sin, and it continues even now, as the beauty of forgiveness fills me with joy unspeakable... I don't get it, but I accept it.

...Thankful. I'm so undeserving... and I'm so thankful.
His lessons don't bruise and scar, but instead, are a balm that heal bruises, bind wounds, and make whole that which sin has impaired.
What a beautiful love...
What an awesome Artist...
What a Glorious God!

Xx's~ Jen


  1. Whoa...Jen...this is amazing. It is....simply amazing.

  2. Thank you so much, Cindy. You just blessed me a lot :)

  3. what a beautiful thoughtful post...thank you

  4. And thank you for taking the time to read it, and for leaving me such a kind comment! :)


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