There are times when the sobering reality of living in a world stained by a curse sets in.
Lately global, national and even local news spew disorder from every direction; natural disasters, conflict, and divisiveness. Even in my own home, the air conditioner was broken the first two weeks of August. (Did I mention we live in south Texas?) The constant noise of chaos leads me into a persistent state of low-grade despair.
I’d imagine I’m not alone.
I’m reminded of the sage advice I received from a counselor several years ago in what I believe was the deepest pit of an ongoing struggle with depression:
“You need to turn off the news.”
Stop allowing the narrative of a hurting world to be the foremost voice when your life has been radically changed by good news. The good news of which I’m speaking—the gospel—is, in fact, beautiful on a cosmic level. This weary world needs beauty. Not just on canvases, but in our conversations with people who are different than us, on flooded streets amidst crisis and around dining room tables with people we love who are hungry for hope.
As you examine your own everyday life, do you know where, or among whom, you might bring beauty in the brokenness?
The Gospel in Watercolors
Several years ago I was visiting with my brother-in-law while he was in the midst of earning his Master’s Degree in Architecture. When I asked him about the courses he was taking he told me about his watercolors class.
Internally I immediately questioned both his future as an architect and the caliber of school he was attending. (What institution would offer course credit to graduate students for a children’s activity?) As he began to describe using watercolors as a medium for art, I began to see that there was much more to the craft than I’d ever imagined.
The patience necessary to push a faintly colored bead of water gently across the canvas. The intentionality to blend the right amount of wetness with the right amount of color to maintain consistent pigment with each tranquil stroke.
His description of the art form caused me to think twice about my initial impression.
Since then, several artist friends affirmed that watercolor painting is one of the more difficult mediums to master. I realized I had misunderstood the craft; only a child or a fool would drench a brush in a cup of water, shove it in the paint and recklessly slap it onto a canvas.
Since then I’ve seen a glimpse of the gospel in watercolors.
Consider one of Jesus’ first acts in the new creation that he will usher in:
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” Revelation 21:3-5
In the future, when God and his people are in perfect harmony again, Jesus will personally wipe away every tear from every eye of every saint in all of human history. Then, he promises, “I am making everything new.”
When I’m tempted to despair I can’t help but imagine God as artist, ever so gently dipping his brush in a basin of saved sinners’ tears, mixing it with the glorious blood of Christ spread on his palette. With unparalleled precision he will push the bead across the heavenly canvas, painting for us a triumphant future. He is patient and precise in working out his masterpiece.
The Creator of the cosmos’ great work was shattered, but his redemption is beyond anything we can comprehend.
Every minuscule drop of brokenness transformed into beauty.
Until then, we wait.
But we don’t wait in vain. And we mustn’t wait passively either. As Christ-followers, we have been invited to our heavenly Father’s workshop and he enjoys when his children join in his work.
May we, his children, pick up our brushes and partake in our Father’s great work by being close to those who are hurting, close enough to understand their tears, graciously painting a picture of hope for a world craving it.