She sat with my daughter, bent over the canvas with a brush hanging from her lips, peering critically at every detail of her work. Wondering if it was good, or maybe even (dare she hope?) great. My daughter and I looked at it from a few feet away…amazed at the depth and perspective in her painting.
“It makes me want to jump in and walk through it,” I said. My friend grinned, encouraged by our enthusiasm. We all looked again, loving how a little distance seemed to smooth out imperfections and bring the work to life. The more she painted, the more layers and colors she added, the more alive the painting became. To watch it happen was like getting a glimpse of what God must have felt as He created color and depth and beauty on this earth. What a gift!
I retreated to my desk a little later, thinking over her work. How like our Father to use art to teach truth. How appropriate that the Father of Lights would reach my heart through the play of light on oils and canvas.
In a season of history where the world feels so jumbled and chaotic, when the news is rarely good and tragedy hits too close too often, it is all too easy to feel lost and confused and unable to see God at work in the midst of the struggle. But He is. He is so busy, painting the masterpiece of Creation, adding layers and color and depth to the form of Man and history…HIS story. Carefully He adds light here, darkness there. Intentionally He places every color exactly where it is needed in order to produce the end result that He has in His mind’s eye. And we, you and me, get to be colors on the great brush He holds in His hand. We get to be a part of the beauty and the glory that is God’s story.
That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I think so…until he plops me into an area of blackness, of darkness contrasting the light where I had hoped to land. But if that is His will for me, in this season, to settle into a dark place…though it may be difficult…I have to make a choice. Do I trust the Artist and allow Him to use me where He wants me or buck against Him, muddling the colors and marring the end result? If I submit and let Him use me in the darkness, then I become part of His glory and beauty. Maybe I am being used to define the light, to draw attention to the bright beauty of the painting’s center…Jesus.
It reminds me of a beautiful little chapel in Carthage, Missouri…the Precious Moments Chapel. Many years ago, on our honeymoon, my husband and I visited this special place. As you enter the chapel you are met with a beautiful mural…Hallelujah Square. It is filled with images of children and families, of reunions and tears being wiped away, of crutches no longer needed and broken bodies healed. But the most beautiful part, to me, is where Jesus stands in the Square. When Samuel Butcher painted this mural he did not realize, until he was finished, that he had placed Jesus Christ at the very center.
Isn’t that so like God? All of the sadness and sickness and heartache that we go through, all of the longing and seemingly endless waiting point back to the One who is at the center of it all…Jesus. As we walk through these days of the season of Advent, try to take a few steps back and ask God to give you His perspective on your role in His masterpiece. See if, just knowing there is a center focus to it all, a reason for the dark color values as well as the bright ones, doesn’t help you lift up your face a little more and hold your head a little higher in hope. Ask Him for faith to endure, for the ability to trust His hand as He works in and around you. Remember all the ways He has been faithful in the past and choose to trust Him to be the same today and tomorrow as He was back then.
Because He is.