According to Wikipedia…
Masterpiece (or chef d’œuvre) in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person’s career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, or workmanship.
This holiday weekend we had the pleasure of hosting my sister, her hubby and kids. We attended a family Bible study, went to the local zoo, took a dip in the very cold pool, and took in some yummy goodness at the creamery down the road. Mmmmm…ice cream. At one point in our adventure, the ladies in our party decided to use some “down time” to apply some color and imagination to some stretched canvas…using water color and brushes.
For my niece and daughter, I suggested that they think about what they wanted to paint and make a tentative sketch as a guideline. That sketch was then drawn again onto the canvas so they could follow their guideline. I explained that this sketch was just a guideline and nothing more…when paint is applied, things can be changed, altered, moved and revised. My daughter was free with the paint- sometimes a little too liberal. She had strokes here and there…glops and dabs. Her painting was of a bird house (which I could see clearly in the center of the canvas) and of several other people and things that she added as her imagination dictated. When she was done, she was pleased as punch with her work. My niece, on the other hand, struggled and lamented over the process. She had made her sketch very detailed and each portion had meaning. This painting was a reflection of her character and who she is. She had drawn a princess with a tea-pot, a scepter, a banner with a heart and a crown flowing overhead…there was so much thought put into her “guideline” and each portion was significant. When she began to paint- she discovered that the colors didn’t always stay within the lines she had drawn, the brushes twisted as they were pulled across the canvas, the colors she had mixed weren’t always exactly what she imagined. As a matter of fact, she became so frustrated that she wasn’t sure at all what she had imagined. “I don’t know” became the response to every question asked as we tried to guide her alone. As she struggled, she looked around the table and began to quietly compare her painting to the others at the table. Her standards of beauty were changing based on what she saw around her. She was no longer focused on the beauty of what she had imagined. She became upset, angry, sad…and gave up.
As I watched her, something occurred to me. Most of us experience these same feelings and frustrations…more than we acknowledge. At least, I do.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I have been engaged in a Bible Study called “Restless” by Jennie Allen for the past few weeks. I know that God has a purpose and plan for me…He always has. But, why don’t I know what it is? What are my gifts and talents and how can they be used for Him? While I can easily see the purpose in others, I find myself crying out…”What did you make ME for?”. I may have some things mapped out in a rough sketch, but I cannot see the cohesion or beauty in it yet. It’s messy. When I glance at those around me, I see beautiful, intentional brush strokes. I have purpose envy. I know that I am significant to God…I just want to be significant for God.
I imagine that this journey will be a process- much like painting a picture. God has an intentional, beautiful, larger vision for me that I cannot see.
Let’s think about some scripture in terms of painting…
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
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. How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:13-18
He sketched me out LONG before I came into existence. He sketched me and His plan for me. There is no way for me to see the plan that He has in mind because I am viewing just one little portion of the painting at a time. He can see the whole scope and view.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
If I make a stroke that doesn’t necessarily line up with his master plan, He can still incorporate that into his plan or even paint over it himself. There are many renowned masterpieces throughout art history that have layers and layers of paint–each stroke carefully applied- until the master painter completed the work.
As we were trying to encourage my niece, I went and found a Monet book that belongs to my son. I explained to her that many paintings are a hot-mess up close, but when you take a few steps back they are stunning. Up close, you may not even be able to discern the subject or objects in the painting…but from a distance it is all clear. In full view. I wrote another post on this very thing last year.
Why do we get so caught up in the details sometimes? Those details distract us from the big picture. There is no way for us to see the full scope and view of God’s plan, but we can follow as He leads- one step at a time. Why do we look at the purpose He has created for others and see ours (or seeming lack purpose) as less than He intended? Comparing one masterpiece in progress with another masterpiece in progress…each is unique and special…DIFFERENT.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
The fact is, I can sketch all I want- but the actual work of art…the advance sketch and plan for that painting as well as the finished masterpiece…comes from God alone. I have to be OK with that. I have to be more than OK with that- I should be excited about that and live, love and embrace each stroke as it is placed. Even the seemingly messy ones.
What happened with my niece? She picked up the brush once more and embraced the art of imperfection. Then, I sent her home with an early birthday present…some canvas, paints and brushes. I cannot wait to see the next masterpiece she creates. And I cannot wait to see the masterpiece that God is creating in her as she is growing and maturing in her faith.