As I watch the seasons change, I see the paintbrush of the greatest artist ever known, the Lord, Creator God. He spoke the earth and living creatures into being, created Adam from the dust of the earth, then used his rib to form Eve. Just as He breathed life into both of them, He is the one who inspires and still creates new life in us.
I am reading The Valley of Vision, a collection of prayers written by Puritans. Each day the readings are like fresh dew upon the petals of my roses, sending out the fragrance of heaven. Every prayer brims with possibility and the vibrancy of a soul well-nourished and a spirit inclined toward God.
This morning I was taken by a reading that spoke about Christ’s “artistry” upon our lives. His divine paintbrush works on each of us. We are His canvas until He completes the portrait that makes us into the perfect image of Christ. We are genuinely His masterpieces. Here are the words of that prayer.
“If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me, may he work on with his divine brush until the complete image be obtained and I be made a perfect copy of him, my Master.”*
When walking in the woods or open fields, I see the Lord paint a new landscape each passing day. These changes are evident because I walk the same pathways every day. The differences may be subtle, but they are remarkable if you learn to observe His work. Suddenly there will be a migrating bird, a new cast of mushrooms, or a sea of seedpods scattered on the path. Often He marks the sky with different moods. He sends the winds to strip the trees of their autumn colors, leaving both rugged and lacey silhouettes in the sky. He paints the expanse with a mackerel sky, round clouds like fish scales, or drifts of clouds shaped like mare’s tails to precede a change in the weather.
The cumulonimbus clouds, or thunderheads, bring lightning, rain, and, yes, thunder. God powerwashes the sky with the rain and paints it brilliant blue after a storm. Each day’s sky is unique. Standing on the shore of a Scottish loch, I gaze at the barely blue horizon. It is almost white, where it meets the mountains and water. Following the expanse from the horizon to a point straight above me, it passes through shades of cerulean blue to the darker hues of deep space. He gloriously attends our horizons with gold, red, and purple for sunrises and sunsets. He frames each landscape with the sky and paints a thousand shades of blue daily. Nothing remains the same from one moment to the next.
Each landscape reveals something new. Sometimes, a Carolina wren clings to a sapling inspecting his surroundings, eyeing me, and staying put so I can enjoy his beautiful face markings, luscious chocolate coloring, and pert happy tail. Other times, a great blue heron intently stalks the top of a beaver dam to catch his breakfast of fish and frogs. Or a stroll in my yard reveals that my camellias are blooming in mid-December as if it were summer, their blossoms still tantalizing the honeybees. He offers everything around me for my delight. How marvelous are His works!
We, too, are unfinished paintings. As long as His hand stays raised toward us, His canvas, we have breath and life. He transforms us every day. But unlike the canvas, we must allow Him to paint a portrait to His liking. Sometimes this involves scraping off our sin that would tarnish His masterpiece. Other times when we resist, He tries a different paint or perspective to guide us toward the masterpiece He has in mind. God never gives up. He intends to make us into the perfect image of Himself.
The scripture says the Lord sees us before we are conceived.** He is on the journey with us and never abandons us. Just as the Lord accompanies me in the forest and by the streams of water, He stays by my side, an artist adding His nature, breath, and love, making me into His final image. Nothing can prevent this. He knows precisely when you will belong to Him. And once His, nothing can snatch you out of His hand. All His children come home.
The day He puts down His paintbrush is the day you arrive in your eternal home. A masterpiece drawn and painted by His hand, ready to enjoy and worship Him forever. Stop and take time to listen and observe. Because as He paints your portrait, the Lord always has something to say.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:15-16 NIV
*The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Arthur Bennet, Edt. pg.45
**Psalm 139:16 NIV