Thursday, December 15, 2011

Resting on His Easel

I’m not smart enough to understand or explain all the things that happen in life. Some of life’s details puzzle me because my view is limited. While I don’t understand all the details, I believe I have a solid grasp on the big things - the really important stuff. I believe there is a God. But more than that, I believe He is a personal God who created us with a purpose and part of that purpose is to have a relationship with Him through love and faith. I also believe that a personal, loving God who creates with purpose and a desire to know His creation would send a message loud and clear to those He loves.

He did.

Short version? God has revealed the big things to us through His Son, Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible.

The things that matter – the big things - are all covered in the life and message of Jesus and the Bible. Things like life, death, faith, hope, peace, forgiveness, grace, love, commitment, and eternity are all in the book. Above and behind all those things that matter is God – the Architect, the Artist, the Engineer – whatever metaphor works for you.

Today, let's think of God as the Artist. The world is His canvas. His brush moves with purpose. Included within that canvas is the heart and life of every one of God’s children. You are there. So am I. Somewhere on that enormous canvas, you'll find my portrait as only God can paint it. What you see in the God-painting of me depends on where you stand. If you narrow your focus into my life and see only a few details, you miss the big picture. But you not only miss the big picture of my life, you miss the bigger picture of God’s purpose.

Some of you have known me all my life. Others knew me in my childhood years. Many of you have known me just a few years or months. If you only see a few years or months of me, you stand too close to the canvas. If you focus only on what you’ve seen, you miss the greater understanding. It all depends upon what part of my life you have seen. You may have been in God's art studio while He was splashing my life with bright and brilliant colors. Or, you may have witnessed brush strokes of darker colors. Or both. Some of you have witnessed the good. Others, the bad. And those who have witnessed the ugly and remained friends? God bless you. God's paintbrush has dabbed from all corners of His palette while painting me.

You too?

If you talked to others who were in God's art studio of my life at a different time than you, it would be like zooming out from the canvas a bit. You would see with greater clarity. More importantly, the larger picture would come into view. The most important brush strokes on the canvas of my life occurred when I was a teenager. Against the backdrop of dark colors, I opened the canvas of my heart freely to God and surrendered my life to Him. I asked God to forgive me of my dark colors. I invited God to paint a cross across my heart and autograph the name JESUS into my soul. God dipped His brush into a blood-colored cup and swept it across my life. I went from a cheap "paint by numbers" future to a masterpiece in that moment.

I can’t explain some of the brush strokes. Some of the darker colors. Some are there because of my own selfishness and foolishness. Others are there mysteriously. If they have a purpose, I'm unable to figure them out.

But I don’t have to...because I trust the Artist.

Even when I know there’s a bigger picture that I haven’t seen and things I may never understand, I choose to trust and believe that He has a purpose. And I've never tried to make Him answerable to me. He's the Artist. I'm just the canvas.

Step back even further from the canvas of my life and you’ll see that God didn’t paint me separate from the rest of the painting. No. Some of the paint from my life bleeds into what God has painted and is painting into yours, and vice-versa. Influence lingers. Integrity stands in bold colors.

Our colors touch.

Like I said, my view is limited. None of us can explain all of the brush strokes God has painted into our lives. But there’s One whose view isn’t limited. God knows what He's doing. Even when those final brush strokes are made - just before our portion of the canvas is finished - there are liable to be many dark, undiscernible splashes where God's hand pushes hard on the brush. Sickness. Accidents. Loss. Failing health. Losing the struggle to breath. Where we might see tragedy, God sees majesty. In fact, the Bible says so. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

I have a picture in my mind when one of God's dear children dies. It’s a picture of God setting the brush down, stepping back, looking at that portion of the canvas dedicated to the earthly life of that precious loved one, and smiling a smile of satisfaction that says, “Well done, Child. You are a good and faithful servant.”

Precious in the sight of God…

I’m not an artist nor the son of one and you may not be either, but we are a canvas. And there is an Artist. Brush in hand. Purpose in mind. Grace, love, and beauty in heart. Would you surrender the canvas of your heart to Him and trust Him? It makes all the difference in the world.

Resting on His Easel,
Perry Crisp

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