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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It is not a ruined canvas

I believe it was the great artist Jackson Pollack who spoke often of not being afraid of making changes to what he was painting - because he believed the work of art had a life of its own. The more he'd add color or change an image, the "newness" of the artwork began to emerge. What had once been a spindly tree could have been devoid of leaves and rather barren in appearance, but with a few simple dabs of green paints of varying shades, the image took on life and fullness. Nothing remained stagnant on the canvas - it all had the potential of change right up until he laid down the brush. Even then, when the artwork was displayed in varying degrees of light, it could take on a different hue or tone to the color on that canvas. It just goes to show that until the master lays down the brush the canvas of nature, the heavenlies, and even our very lives is an ever-changing piece of artwork!

Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights. (I Peter 3:3-4 NLT)


We might want to "dress up" what others see, but in truth, our lives are an ever-changing canvas upon which God displays his grace, truth, love, and power. When we become amenable to the ever-changing landscape he is making of our lives, we begin to see how he brings beauty from ashes and strength from failure. God has a way of making many a brush-stroke over our lives even without us even noticing he has, but in turn, he has changed what is now before the eyes of those who see this work of art in its outward form. We can put a really ornate frame on a rather ugly picture, but it doesn't change the picture! What changes the picture is the next brush-stroke, not the frame we put on it!


If this is true of the "good things" God is putting into our lives, it is possible it could be as true of the bad things we have allowed to become part of the canvas, as well. When we allow sin to enter in, it is quite possible we put a few brush-strokes of our own upon that canvas that are less than beautiful in appearance. In fact, they may be like the most abstract of art - hard to really understand, bold marks which carry depth of darkness within them. Yet, God can take the brush-strokes of darkness and turn them into a picture of his grace. We don't know what can do until we stand back - the image might not appear like much to begin with, but when God sets to work in our lives, his brush-strokes of grace will turn broken and violent strokes caused by sin's strokes to not be masked, but to be transformed.


I used to think a painter had to scrap a canvas because it was "ruined" - the image not coming out quite as they planned. It wasn't until I sat with some pretty skilled painters that I began to see how even the "mistakes" could be "undone" with another couple brush-strokes. We may think the picture of our lives has been "painted" already - believing we have to settle for whatever image we see before us today. I would have to challenge that one, though, because nothing is without the potential for him to reveal his glory in our lives when we put down the brush and allow him to take it into his capable hands. Even the ugliest and darkest of times are not "ruined" canvases to be discarded. They are a means to bring forth beauty - for God declares quite clearly that he is the one who can make beauty emerge from ashes, the garment of praise from the depths of despair, and joy from mourning.


We want the image to be "right" and "perfect" from the beginning, but our lives are an ever-changing canvas. Allow him to take the brush-strokes and we might just find the image which emerges in time will be the most beautiful work of art he has produced yet! Just sayin!