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Paint anyone?

It is an act of seeing which allows us to perceive many times.  We could become alert to something happening through our other senses of hearing, touch, or smell, but seeing is what often "connects the dots" for us.  Some call this being a "visual learner" - we can read all about it, but once we see it done a couple of times, we've got it!  Without seeing, we just don't have the same perception, do we?  Yet, it is possible to "bypass" this element of perception - functioning pretty well, as a matter of fact - but...we miss out on the splendor of color, the mystery of the twinkle in someone's eye, and the awing wonder of following the trail of a jet high up in the sky.  We function, but we don't "get the full picture" when our seeing is not connected to our perceiving.

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. (Proverbs 29:18 MSG)

Seeing what God is doing is sometimes one of the hardest things to really comprehend.  We often miss his subtle moves simply because we aren't tuned into him as well as we should be.  I used to watch this guy on TV when I was a kid - his name was Bob Ross.  His show was called The Joy of Painting. He could take a pile of oil or acrylic paints and turn them into landscapes in something like 20-30 minutes.  He'd use knives, detail brushes, but what amazed me most was his use of the traditional "house painting" size brushes! He'd just barely touch the large brush to the paint, then he'd stipple it onto the landscape, giving the sense of tree leaves, wildflowers, or some other detail within the work of art.  Some might think his "art" was a little too "easy" because he learned these short-cuts to creating a really unique work of art, but in actuality, he learned them because his time to paint was limited at first - he had to take advantage of the time he had and get the work finished so he could sell it.

I never actually learned to paint like Mr. Ross, though.  I watched him over and over again, fascinated by how his mind could take a blank canvas and create a finished piece of artwork which resembled the mountains of Alaska, the fields filled with wildflowers, or densely wooded forested adorned with a fresh coat of fallen snow.  Although I was exposed to his work, understood his techniques, and had many of the same "tools" to use as he did, I never put paint to canvas.  Why?  I didn't "attend to" the secrets he revealed.  In other words, I didn't put them into practice.  This is often how we miss out on so much God would like to involve us in - we simply don't put into practice what it is he provides in the way of instruction or insight for our lives.

So, although seeing is part of perception, it is not the end-all.  We have to see and then "attend to" what he reveals.  When we "attend to" something, we are taking it to heart.  We keep it in the forefront of our minds, allowing the very thought of what has been revealed to permeate our every thought. In a simpler sense, it means we give service to - we invest in, spend time with. So many times we miss the fullness of perception because we "see", but we neglect the importance of "giving service to" what it is we perceive.  I know a lot of things about various people in my life - their likes, dislikes, what makes them laugh, what could make them cry, what words shut them down, what words build them up.  How did I learn these things?  By paying attention to them.  Now, how foolish would it be to know all these things and then ignore each and every one of them?  

God's place of impacting our lives is at the point of our attentiveness to the details he reveals.  Plain and simple - revelation is one thing - action taken upon what is revealed is quite another.  If we find ourselves "stumbling around" a little in this daily walk, it might just be related to not having "put into practice" what it is we already have been taught.  We are all blank canvases - God knowing exactly what he desires to bring forth on the canvas of our lives.  He gives us various tools, shows us the steps to follow to allow the creation of his "artwork" in our lives, but if we never pick up the brush and apply a little paint, we will still be blank canvases when it is all said and done!  Just sayin!

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