The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill,
and to destroy. I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10 NKJV
It was a last-minute decision to try filling a few hours of one of the weekends that my boys spend with their dad. I had always wanted to try one of those painting classes, and so I found a local studio that offers them and signed up on-line for a Saturday night session.
Alone, I walked up to the second-story studio in an historic downtown building. After giving the hostess my name, she marked me off the list and reached down behind the table. Pulling up a white painting canvas, she handed it to me and said, “Here’s your blank canvas.”
I froze. Literally froze. I stared at her for a second before taking hold of the Canvas. Dazed, I made my way to the tables set up with wooden easels, and carefully set my Canvas down on one. Sitting down in front of the Canvas, I just stared at it as my eyes filled with tears.
Just months past a years-long divorce battle, and weeks past a bitter fight for custody, I finally had some resolution. After years of not knowing what the future held, there was some certainty, some legal documents that confirmed a certain part of my life was over. Book 1 in my life’s series had come to an end. But I had not yet cracked open the cover of the next empty volume to begin writing Book 2, had not yet started looking ahead toward the promise of the future.
After collecting my paper plate full of primary paint colors, and selecting some brushes, I sat and stared at my blank canvas. It was so full of potential, empty of mistakes. It was perfect. It was beautiful. I dreaded the reality that I was going to mess it all up with my lack of artistry.
Isn’t that how life is, though? Here I am, at a whole new starting point in life, but I’m not moving forward. What good is a blank canvas? When I worked as a volunteer at the Portland Art Museum, I had the privilege of spending many hours looking at one of Monet’s versions of Water Lilies. The canvas is a lot larger than you might realize from seeing it in print form. The pastel colors don’t shout at you. The brush strokes aren’t clean and precise, but each one was put on the canvas with intention. It’s messy, a little disheveled, but so beautiful. It’s something that people stop and admire, investigating the unique mysteries of the strokes that up close look like blobs, but from a distance depict flowers and lily pads floating in a French pond.
Silly as it sounds, it took courage to finally put a paint-laden brush to that Canvas, to intentionally break the plane of plain and add a dash of light blue per the hostess’s careful direction. Over the course of 90 minutes, I continued adding more colors, mixed together from primary colors. Hues of blue, orange, green, brown, and yellow, with accents of white and black, covered up every square centimeter of the Canvas. In very similar ways, it’s taking a lot of courage to break away from the past and begin a new future in earnest.
As I told a friend about how much that blank canvas impacted me, she said, “The best part is that God has already painted your future for you. You just have to uncover it.” How true! When we hold back, when we stay in the place of pain and mourning and loss, we’re robbing God of the chance to fulfill the plans He has for us!
Maybe, like me, you’ve mourned the loss of a broken marriage. Perhaps you’ve suffered the loss of a child, the death of a sibling or parent or best friend. Maybe you’re struggling to let go of a life of addiction. Maybe you are between jobs or clamoring to regain your footing after a PCS or other job-related move. A blank canvas is a beautiful thing, full of promise and potential. If God has given you a blank canvas recently, blessed you with a new beginning—even if it came with heartbreak and tears—don’t keep it blank. Step forward with courage and add some color. Because a painting, even with its rough strokes and imperfect lines and non-descript blobs of paint, is a piece of artwork to be admired.
Living in the Word Link Up
Are you doing a particular bible study right now, reading a book that is growing your faith or spending time in God’s Word and you just can’t wait to share what God is doing in your heart? We’d love for you to join us and share the amazing Truths God is showing you by linking up your blog posts (or sharing your stories in the comments below, if you’re not a blogger). When we share our faith with one another, we allow God to shine through us blessing and encouraging one another to keep pressing on and leaning in to Jesus. We hope you’ll join us here each Sunday!
Grab a Graphic!