Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in one of those paint-and-chat-with-friends kind of events, and had a lovely time. Understand that by no stretch of the imagine do I consider myself a painter; these events offer more of a paint-by-numbers approach, where the instructor gives the class step-by-step guidance on how to create a piece, until voila! – a (sort of) scenic sunset unfolds before your eyes:
Actually, there is supposed to be a little island in the middle of the lagoon. I gave it a go, but thank the Lord for acrylic paint! I didn’t like how my island looked, and before I realized what had happened, my friend wiped it away with a cloth. My first thought was, “What are you doing?” – until she explained to me that acrylic paints can simply be wiped away, and you can start all over again.
So, since I was island-less, I started afresh and added different colors to the little lagoon to give the illusion of the sun setting over the waters. The only person who really knew that my painting was different from the original design was my friend, and she didn’t make a big deal about it, because she knew a thing or two about acrylic paints that I clearly did not.
It got me thinking – I reckon this is the way God deals with us. We put something unseemly on our spiritual canvases, and God offers to simply wipe it away. In our misunderstanding of God’s heart toward us, a hypothetical conversation unfolds, and I imagine that it goes something like this:
- God: Let’s just wipe that little island of sin away now, okay?
- Me: No, You can’t do that! There will be a stain! And everyone will know that I am a terrible painter! <weeping>
- God: What are you talking about? I made the canvas and the paint. Do you think that you’re telling me something that I don’t already know? I can do anything. Of course I have the power to wipe your little island away, and I can also give you the tools that you need to get started with your painting again.
- Me: But God! I’m such a terrible artist!
- God: How does that matter? I’ve already paid the price for the acrylic paint. It is designed for this very purpose – to wipe away the undesirable things from the canvas of your life. Why would you refuse this free gift? It costs you nothing.
- Me: Well, if it didn’t cost You anything, let’s get on with it, then.
- God: Hang on there! I didn’t say that the paint didn’t cost Me anything. I simply said that it is free to you. The paint came at a pretty steep price to Me, but I gladly paid it; otherwise, how would you and I be able to connect, with that awful island of sin between us?
- Me: But the original picture has an island on it, and I didn’t like my attempt to recreate it. That’s why I wanted to get rid of the island.
- God: Your attempts to follow My plans – without first seeking a fully surrendered relationship with Me – will not ultimately succeed. From My perspective, when amateur artists try to copy what I do, but refuse to follow My instructions, things seem to go awry.
- Me: Oh, I get it now, I think.
- God: But that’s where the acrylic paint comes in. I knew that people don’t always follow My instructions exactly – or, they mean to, but still make mistakes – and so I made another plan: Acrylic paints. However, the only way for the plan to work is if you understand the nature of acrylic paints, and armed with that understanding, ask for your mistakes to be wiped away. Do you understand what I am telling you?
- Me: I think so. So I don’t need to bring my own paint?
- God: No. Trust me – My paint is better than yours. But you’ve been working with your paint for a long time. Do you trust Me enough to let it go, and instead work with the materials that I have already provided for you?
And that is my struggle each day. Do I trust the Master Painter with His materials, or will I insist on bringing my own inferior supplies to the canvas of life?
Here is my prayer for today: Dear Lord, thank You for allowing me to paint with acrylic paints. When I mess up, thank You for paying the price so that my mistakes can be erased by You. Each day, remind me that I don’t need to do anything to earn Your love or my salvation – I simply need to show up, accept that You’ve given me all that I need to be in a meaningful relationship with You, and then stop to ask for forgiveness when I have sinned against you. It’s as simple as that, thanks to Christ’s work on the cross. In Your name I pray, Amen.